Driving Miss Daisy

by Alfred Uhry

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What cultural differences and similarities do Miss Daisy and Hoke share in Driving Miss Daisy?

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Daisy and Hoke share not belonging to the most accepted cultural groups in the south at the time the play Driving Miss Daisy takes place (the late 1940s through the early 1970s). Daisy Werthan is a Jewish woman in Atlanta, while Hoke Colburn is an African-American man. They are from...

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different cultural backgrounds, and Daisy is from a far more privileged group than Hoke, who works as her chauffeur. For example, Daisy is a former teacher, while Hoke has never learned to read. She eventually teaches him how to read. 

They are similar in that both Daisy and Hoke are subject to violence and prejudice because of their religious or racial backgrounds. At the beginning of the play, Hoke says to Daisy's son, Boolie, "I'd druther drive for Jews. People always talkin' about how they stingy and they cheap, but doan' say none of that roun' me." Hoke has an appreciation of the fact that there are Jewish stereotypes in his society that aren't true.

Hoke certainly understands how it feels to be the object of prejudice. When he is taking Daisy on a long road trip, he has to stop the car because he is not allowed, as an African-American man in the south, to use public bathrooms. He says to Daisy, "How you think I feel havin' to ax you when can I make my water like I some damn dog?" (page 32). He is clearly feeling embarrassed and humiliated because his society will not allow him to live with dignity.

Daisy is also subject to violence and prejudice when the temple where she worships is bombed. Hoke says to her:

"You know as good as me who done it. Always the same ones. It done matter to them people what kinda Jew people might be. A Jew is a Jew to them folks. Jes like light or dark we all the same nigger" (page 38). 

Hoke tells her that he can identify with the way she feels because when he was ten or eleven, his friend's father was found lynched in a tree. They can both identify with being victims of campaigns of violence from hate groups who target the cultural or racial groups they belong to. Daisy finally sees that they have a common cause when she invites Hoke to a dinner for Martin Luther King later in the play.

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