Study Guide

Driving Miss Daisy Prejudice

Prejudice

HOKE: Y'all people's Jewish, ain't you?

BOOLIE: Yeah, we are. Why?

HOKE: I'd rather work for Jews. I know folks say they stingy and cheap.
But don't say none of that around me! […] I worked for Judge Harold Stone, a Jewish gentleman. […] Judge Stone was my father's friend.

Hoke's familiar with the stereotypes about Jews, but he doesn't buy them. What this passage shows is that having personal relationships with people is what gets you past stereotypes about them. Judge Stone apparently treated Hoke well. The fact that he was friends with his father shows that the judge himself wasn't prejudiced either. Hoke says that with pride.

DAISY: They all take things, you know. […] They're like children in the house. If they want something, they just take it.

Miss Not Prejudiced doesn't seem to understand how offensive these vague generalizations about an entire race or class can be.

DAISY: Pull in here. Wait a minute. Give me the keys. Stay right here by the car.

Daisy doesn't trust Hoke not to run away with the car. You know those servants…

POLICEMAN: Boy, what do you think you're doing with this car? […] What's this name? Wertheran? […] Never heard of that one before. What kind of name is that?

The Alabama police officer only stops Hoke because he is black. The fact that he can harass Miss Daisy for being Jewish is a bonus for this jerk.

POLICEMAN: An old n***** and an old Jew woman taking off down the road together. That is one sorry sight.

This is the most shocking line in the movie because it's so blatantly racist and intolerant. But it makes you realize that lots of people have these attitudes; they're just more subtle about it.

HOKE: I got to be excused. I got to go make water.

DAISY: You should have thought of that at the service station.

HOKE: A colored can't use the toilet at none of these service stations, Miss Daisy. You know that.

Segregation was alive and well in Alabama at the time. It's pretty shocking that an educated woman like Daisy "forgets" that Hoke couldn't use the public facilities at the gas station.

HOKE: Somebody done bombed the temple.

Daisy experiences prejudice of her own when her Jewish temple is bombed. She's so shaken up she refuses to believe it at first. The 1958 Atlanta temple bombing, the fourth synagogue bombing in Atlanta in just over a year, was carried out by white supremacists who objected to the temple's Rabbi, Jacob Rothschild, advocating desegregation.

HOKE: I remember one time back down there in Macon. Lord, I couldn't have been more than 10 or 11 years old, I reckon. I had this friend named Porter. One day, there his daddy was, hanging in a tree. […] Had his hand tied behind him. Flies was all over him. I tell you, I threw up right where I was standing. You go on and cry.

DAISY: I'm not crying. Why did you tell me that story?

HOKE: Lord, I don't know, Miss Daisy. That mess back there put me in mind of it.

DAISY: Ridiculous! The temple has nothing to do with that!

HOKE: Yes, ma'am, if you say so.

Hoke attempts to share a tragic memory of of his own with Miss Daisy to let her know he understands the shock of a horrific act of prejudice and hate. He tells her that the people who bombed the temple are the same ones behind the lynchings of blacks. It's difficult to tell if she's being callous because she's still in shock, or if she really believes what she says. Regardless, she totally disregards Hoke's pain.

BOOLIE: Can I ask you something? When did you get so fired up about Martin Luther King? You weren't before.

DAISY: Why, Boolie! I've never been prejudiced in my life, and you know it.

We've seen a lot more of Miss Daisy at this point, and she hasn't really changed. She can still talk the talk, but she has yet to walk the walk. We like to think that Daisy's relationship with Hoke is making her rethink some of her attitudes.

DAISY: Boolie says you wanted to go with me to this dinner. Did you tell him that?

HOKE: No, I didn't.

DAISY: I didn't think so. What'd be the point? You can hear him whenever you want. I think it's wonderful the way things are changing.

HOKE: Now what you think I am, Miss Daisy?

DAISY: What do you mean?

HOKE: The invitation to this dinner came in the mail a month ago. Now, if did be you wanted me to go with you how come you wait till we in the car on the way before you asked me?

DAISY: What? All I said was Boolie said you wanted to go.

HOKE: Next time you want me to go somewhere, you ask me reguIar.

Like we said, Daisy can talk the talk. Here, Hoke forces Daisy to confront her discomfort in taking him to the dinner. It's one thing to hear Dr. King speak; it's another to invite your black friend to the dinner. That's out of her comfort zone, and Dr. King's speech makes her even more uncomfortable.