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gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a great deal of symbolism in "Distances" for such a short story.

The radio symbolizes the lost technological civilization. So does television, and the narrator's dream of it (and tears for it) represents the bittersweet relationship Native Americans had with such a culture.

The nakedness as they burn houses is indicated to symbolize them becoming as they used to appear.

The wristwatch also represents white (techno) culture, winding down.

The Skins and the Urbans are symbols of divisions within Native American culture.

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