Miss Daisy is a 72 year old widow living alone. She is a woman of strong will and values her independence. After having an accident backing out of her garage, her son, Boolie, insists on hiring a driver for her. Daisy resists this wish as she wants to be in control of her own life. Boolie is 40 years old and has taken over his father’s printing company. Boolie takes good care of his mother, but sometimes neglects to take into account her feelings. When he disagrees with her, he will generally override her opinion without thinking about what she wants or why she wants it.
Boolie hires Hoke Coleburn to be Miss Daisy’s driver. Hoke is a 60 year old, African American. He is extremely patient with Miss Daisy despite her prejudice and stubborn behavior. Hoke is willing to stand up for himself when he feels his dignity is at stake. Both, Daisy and Hoke have preconceived notions about race. They are both very stubborn but have different ways of expressing it. Daisy verbally protests, as she did when Boolie hired Hoke. Hoke doesn’t verbalize his protests, but will take firm action. Daisy makes demands and Hoke ignores them and continues on his chosen path.
The relationships that exist between Daisy and Hoke is that of employer/employee. In the position of employer, Miss Daisy maintains power over Hoke and controls his environment. She is also white, which provides an even greater sense of power, particularly in the south in the 1940s and 1950s. Miss Daisy doesn’t trust Hoke or any blacks for that matter. Miss Daisy has deep seated prejudice but does not acknowledge it, as it is simply part of her society. As an independent, educated, white Jewish woman in the south, Daisy is a formidable force. Hoke is a black, uneducated, unemployed man in the south.
Daisy’s life is changing however. She has become physically vulnerable due to age. Socially she is a Jew in a predominantly Christian society. When Boolie hires Hoke as her driver, Miss Daisy loses her independence and she is dependent on Hoke for transportation. In this moment, Boolie demonstrates that he has become a decision maker for Daisy. Although he cares for his mother, by not listening to her or taking her feelings into account, he is losing her trust. Daisy finds herself thrust into a position where she must be cared for by people she doesn’t trust (Hoke).
She is no longer making her own decisions. Being placed in a position of vulnerability, and not being able to trust those who care for you, Daisy struggles with her position. When Daisy first meets Hoke, she dislikes him, both because he is African American and because she resents his presence in her home. However, Miss Daisy and Hoke do form a relationship and do in fact become friends. They share something in common. They are both aging and both have some vulnerability in the environment in which they coexist, Daisy as a Jew and Hoke as an African American.
Though their relationship is strained at the beginning, they do take steps that promote closeness and trust. They share crucial similarities, yet their differences allow them the opportunity to learn from each other and enrich their lives. Hoke and Daisy are dependent on each other. Daisy needs to be able to get around and Hoke needs employment. It takes Daisy some time to succumb to the pressure of Boolie and allow Hoke to drive her somewhere, but she finally gives in. Daisy tries to maintain the upper hand on this drive, telling Hoke where to drive, where to turn, even when she has simply forgotten or age has challenged her memory.
Hoke, rather than challenging her, does what he needs to do and allows her to believe she is right. Hoke does “listen” to Daisy, and understands her needs. He is honest with her when needed, but always in a quiet and respectful manner. He is loyal to her. He is there for her when her son, Boolie, is not. Hoke demonstrates his loyalty and friendship when he drives to her home on the night of an ice storm, when the road were slick, because he knows she is alone. Daisy allows Hoke to share intimate moments of her life, a sign of trust. When Hoke drives her to the cemetery, Daisy realizes that Hoke cannot read.
Daisy teaches him to read and provides to Hoke a new status in the world, while Hoke teaches the her about human rights and wrongs. Their trip to Mobile, they both open up and share intimate stories with each other, the kind you only share with a friend. On this trip, Hoke also realizes how much Daisy needs him and is afraid to be without him. This “otherness” helped Daisy and Hoke to form a meaningful, lasting friendship that is mutually beneficial. Daisy strengthens Hoke’s inner world, giving him access to the world that she has known and the one that will bring greater self-respect, such as a steady income, a car, and the ability to read.
Hoke strengthens Daisy’s outer world, helping her to become a better person, one who can move beyond her proscribed point of view and embrace concepts, such as civil rights, that will bring positive change to others. Boolie, though a competent business man, is challenged in his own right. Concerned by the racial inequalities in the business world and the perception of him by others, remains vulnerable. He has exerted power over his mother, making decisions for her, but maintains a great deal of responsibility for the family business that he has been entrusted with.
Boolie is stressed, trying to maintain a business that his father had created and trying to care for his mother. Great relationships were established through the story of “Driving Miss Daisy. ” The underlying issue of trust, on Miss Daisy’s part, had an impact on their relationship. She didn’t want to trust Hoke. It wasn’t natural for her to do so. Her continual questioning of the value of Hoke’s life and others like him (blacks), served as a reminder to him that he was subservient. Hoke persevered, and won her heart, despite the color of his skin and the lack of education.
Hoke became her best friend. He was there when no one else was. He listened to her. Through his actions, Hoke became a leader, teaching Daisy the value of their relationship and the value of people, no matter their color of skin. He did this by being honest, respectful, and responding to her needs. He was her best friend. Boolie, though a responsible and caring man, could have furthered his relationship with his mother. He could have and should have listened to her concerns and worked with her to find answers that were meaningful for her.
Daisy could have empowered Boolie and Hoke to make better decisions by communicating in a way that acknowledged their concerns and demonstrated her needs as well. Boolie’s focus was on his business and the business community. Daisy could have acknowledged that it must be difficult to take over your father’s business, particularly as a Jew in a Christian society. The discrimination that occurred among all of them, black or Jew, was a common element that could have strengthened their relationships and their ties with the world around them.
The relationships they shared were hampered by their lack of belief and trust in the other and their lack of communication. Daisy was failing and prejudiced against the blacks. Hoke was uneducated and prejudiced, although in a positive way, against the Jews. Boolie had his mind made up about what was right and good for his mother, despite her wishes. Given the situation and the time that this story occurred in, each of the characters has equally believable parts and an equally believable resolution. Each of them could have seen benefits from further trust and communication.
Courtney from Study Moose
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