Driving Miss Daisy

by Alfred Uhry

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 494

Hoke Coleburn
Hoke is sixty-years-old when the play begins. He is an unemployed, uneducated African American. He has worked as a driver and deliveryman previously. He is pleased when Boolie hires him, both for the job and because he likes to work for Jews. He is extremely patient with Daisy and tolerant of her barely disguised prejudices. He also is not afraid to speak up to her, always, however, in a quiet, respectful manner. When his dignity is at stake, he speaks up for his rights. His integrity teaches Daisy how to be a more humane person. Hoke also develops as a result of their friendship, for instance, Daisy teaches him to read. Perhaps most importantly, the financial security Hoke obtains over the twenty-five years brings him greater self-confidence and self-respect.

Daisy is a seventy-two-year-old widow living alone when the play opens. She is independent and stubborn, but her son Boolie insists on hiring a driver for her after she crashes her car while backing out of the garage. Daisy deeply resents Hoke and the implication that she is no longer able to control her own life. However, Hoke's mild manner eventually wins her over, and she finally allows him to drive her to the market. He serves as her driver for the next twenty-five years. Through her friendship with Hoke, Daisy loses some of her deep-rooted prejudice against African Americans and even comes to consider herself a supporter of civil rights. Although she becomes unable to care for herself as she gets older, eventually moving to a nursing home, she never loses her determination or her sense of self. Some of the characteristics that identified her at the beginning of the play, such as her bossiness or her sense of humor, are with her as strongly at the end of the play.

Boolie Werthan
Boolie is Daisy's son. He is forty-years-old when the play begins. He has taken over his father's printing company, and, over the course of the play, he develops into one of the city's leading business figures. As the years pass, he becomes more conscious of how he will be perceived by society, and, consequently, does not want to attend the United Jewish Appeal banquet for Martin Luther King, Jr. Boolie takes good care of his mother, but he sometimes neglects her feelings. When her opinion disagrees with his, he generally overrides her without thinking about what she really wants or why she wants it. However, he humors his mother's stubbornness rather than try to understand it.

Florine Werthan
Although Boolie's wife Florine is never seen by the audience, she is still a lively character. She is Jewish but socializes with the Christian community and surrounds herself with Christian trappings, such as Christmas decorations. She has high social aspirations and is a member of many organizations. She values social status and symbols more than she does family, and primarily because of this, Daisy thinks she is shallow and foolish.

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