Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, despite his homicidal tendencies, is a relatable character. He represents the loneliness and isolation we all feel from time to time living in New York City. A woman he likes rejects him. He has no friends to speak of. He drives a taxi all night long, taking people from place to place but never connecting to any of them. Travis internalizes all of his thoughts and feelings because he has no one to share them with.
When I first moved to Brooklyn, I didn’t know anyone. I was living with strangers and had just started a new job and internship. For weeks, I just moped around my room, watching fuzzy reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond on my tiny television. It was the loneliest I’d ever been. Eventually, I made friends with some of my co-workers and the city seemed to open up for me. It didn’t seem as overwhelming anymore and I felt that I could make it here.
I wonder how things would have been different if I hadn’t had roommates that summer or if my job was driving alone in a taxi all night. One could also wonder how Travis’ life may have been different if Betsy hadn’t rejected him. It’s hard to know what we, as human beings, are capable of when we’re subjected to such isolation. We may think that we couldn’t commit the violence that Travis does at the end of the film, but we may be wrong. Most people have at least one person they are able to talk to, so that their innermost thoughts don’t overcome them. Travis isn’t all that different than the rest of us — maybe just a little lonelier.