In "Distances," what does the author mean when he says "Last night I dreamed about television. I woke up crying." Why does he keep repeating it? What is the symbolism of television throughout the entire story?
This visionary story subverts the existing power relations between Native Americans and whites as it takes place at a time when the white population is being exterminated by a mysterious plague and apocalyptic conditions (no more trees, permanent floods, severe climate change). Native Americans are managing to survive better than whites, but their condition is difficult too. The sentence on television, as well as the image of the transistor radio, refers to the identification of these media with white culture and thus to their elimination once white culture is no longer the dominant one. To affirm their own culture, Native Americans destroy the symbols of white culture. Yet, there is a sense of loss in the narrator's description of the radio and the television that suggests that if anger remains unconstrained it may simply replace one system of domination with an equally unpleasant one. Significantly, the story portryas Native Americans now divided between a dominant group (the Skins) and a submitted one (the Urbans).