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Taxi Driver

  • Study Guide
Quotes

Important Quotes Explained

Quotes Important Quotes Explained

Quote 1

Travis:   "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Well, who the hell else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? Well, I'm the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you're talkin' to?"

This is one of the most famous and often imitated soliloquies in film history. It occurs shortly after Travis has bought his guns and has decided to discipline his body, and directly after the scene where Travis gets himself tagged by one of Palantine's Secret Service agents. Travis says these macho lines to a mirror, while drawing his gun as quickly as he can to threaten the imaginary person talking to him. Roger Ebert has noted that the line "Well, I'm the only one here" echoes the central theme of the film, loneliness. Travis is so lonely that he is the only one there, forced to speak to his reflection. In the scene, Travis acts as if people commonly talk to him in a manner that merits an aggressive response. However, until this point in the film the only person who has even come close to confronting him is the clumsy and ineffectual Tom. By talking to the mirror, Travis creates a new social situation for himself, one where he is in complete control. He sees himself as a vigilante, but in reality he creates conflict where there is none, becoming his own antagonist.

This defensive soliloquy is not the first time in the film that Travis has a one-sided conversation. When he goes to see Betsy at the Palantine headquarters after she has refused to answer his calls, he is repetitive and accusatory in a way that resembles the "You talkin' to me?" speech. He says, "Why won't you talk to me? Why won't you talk to me? Why don't you answer my calls when I call you? You think I don't know you're here? You think I don't know? You think I don't know?" Instead of faulting someone for talking to him as he does in the mirror, here he is aggressive toward Betsy for not calling him. Another version of Travis's soliloquy appears even earlier in the film, when Travis is on his first date with Betsy. Betsy compares Travis to a line of a Kris Kristofferson song, and he asks, "You saying that about me?" She replies, "Who else would I be talking about?" These two questions foreshadow the question-question conversation that Travis has with himself later on. With Betsy, Travis's response is defensive and upset, while she affirms her observation with the rhetorical question, "Who else?" When Travis talks to himself in the mirror, he is the only one asking questions, endowing him with a measure of power he lacked when he talked to Betsy.