STUDY GUIDE Unit Five, Part Two: THE CITY AS FRONTIER:
The Urban Wild West and the Politics of Violence
Reading Questions: Bliss,
"God's Lonely Man;" Additioinal Materials: on Taxi Driver from Scorsese
AudioVisual Guide Questions: Taxi
Driver, Martin Scorsese
Bliss, "God's Lonely Man," from The Word Made Flesh
On Taxi Driver from Scorsese
on Scorsese, Eds. D. Thompson & I. Christie
Bliss analyzes Travis Bickle's attitude toward "cultural outsiders," particularly
people of color. How does Travis' racism function in the film?
How does Travis Bickle "oversimplify" the life he sees in the city?
According to Bliss, Bickle can only find redemption through violence.
How does Bliss parallel Taxi Driver with other underworld mythologies?
According to Bliss, how is Travis like the cowboys of the Old West? (p.50)
How does he compare to the heroes of our national American mythology such
as the lawman in High Noon? (p.51) How is Travis visually presented
as a cowboy? (p. 52)
Where does "God's lonely man" derive his knowledge of love? of human interaction?
Why is this significant? (p.50)
How does Travis's view of women represent the madonna/whore complex? Who
are the women in the film? How does he see them? (p.52-55)
The footnotes on p. 59 present the background for Travis' view of the city.
Trace this background. How are metaphors of health and sickness used
to convey this view? How are these metaphors reproduced in Travis'
other concerns in the film? Explain his obsession with cleanliness,
purity, and health.
AudioVisual Guide Questions:
Study the original drawings for the climactic scene of Taxi Driver. How
is the violence choreographed? To what ends?
How does Scorsese tie Taxi Driver to the post-Vietnam context? What are
Travis' connections to Vietnam? What are the unresolved issues with which
he cannot cope?
Scorsese describes the horror he felt when the audience responded delightfully
to the violence of the final scenes of the film. Study his explanation
(p.63) and reassess those scenes. Is the violence portrayed ritualistically
or symbolically? Develop a detailed explanation for your point of view.
Draw on the scene's elements to provide evidence for your assessment.
How does Travis Bickle "feed his hate," according to Scorsese. Why
does he do so?
How does the film develop the theme of loneliness and isolation? How might
this play into the psychological stereotypes of the alienated city dweller?
TAXI DRIVER QUESTIONS COMING SOON