Study Guide

Driving Miss Daisy Race

Race

HOKE: Judge Stone was my father's friend.

Hoke worked for a Jewish judge before Boolie offered him a job. In fact, the judge was a friend of Hoke's father—an important guy being friends with a poor black man. Northern Jews were very involved in the civil rights movement in the '50s and '60s, but southern Jews had to keep a low profile to avoid antagonizing their neighbors and fellow business owners. (That was why Boolie chose not to go to Dr. King's speech even though he admired him.) Jews who spoke out against desegregation could have their businesses boycotted or their houses of worship bombed. (Source)

BOOLIE: I guess you know who this is.

This is how Boolie introduces Hoke and Idella, almost as if he thinks all black people know one another. We're not given any information that suggests these two might have been acquainted.

BOOLIE: "Them." Afford "them." You sound like Governor Talmadge.

Boolie takes issue with how his mother refers to her household help. At least she's not saying "those people." Btw, Talmadge was the segregationist governor of Georgia in the 1930s and '40s.

BOOLIE: He stole a can of salmon?

DAISY: Here it is! I knew there was something funny. They all take things, you know, so I counted. […] I leave him plenty of food every day. I tell him exactly what it is. They're like children. If they want something, they just take it!

Ugh. No comment necessary.

HOKE: Miss Daisy, if I was to ever get my hands on what you got...shoot, I'd shake it around for everyone in the world to see. Never gonna understand some white folks.

The disconnect between the things Miss Daisy says and the way she actually acts is very confusing to Hoke. He can't understand why she'd disavow her wealth. He'd be proud to be rich and have a fine house.

BOOLIE: A lot of men I do business with wouldn't like it. They might snicker a little, call me Martin Luther Werthan behind my back. You know, Jack Raphael down at Ideal Mills, he's a New York Jew instead of a Georgia Jew. And, the really smart ones come from New York don't they? Some of the men might throw their business to Jack instead of ol' Martin Luther Werthan. Maybe I might not hear about certain lunch meetings at the Commerce Club. I don't know, maybe it wouldn't happen. But, sometimes that's just how things work.

As a Southern businessman, Boolie can't attend the Martin Luther King dinner because of its potential negative effect on his business. Boolie chooses business over ethics. You get the feeling he would have liked to hear Dr. King speak. Sad, sad, sad.

POLICEMAN: What's this name? Wertheran?

DAISY: Werthan.

POLICEMAN: Never heard that one before. What kind of name is it?

DAISY: It's of German derivation.

POLICEMAN: German derivation. Thank you, ma'am. An old n***** and an old Jew woman riding down the road together. Now that is one sorry sight.

Notice how Daisy has to disguise her family name as "German." She doesn't fool the policemen, though. This is a very revealing scene in that it shows what are racist and anti-Semitic attitudes even among law enforcement. How can anyone expect to get justice?

DAISY: I think it's wonderful the way things are changing.

HOKE: Talk about things changing. They ain't changed all that much.

By this point, it's a little unbelievable that Miss Daisy is so oblivious to the irony of her statement. She's just refused to invite Hoke in to hear Dr. King's speech. It would be nice if Hoke could answer Miss Daisy to her face, but he speaks when he's outside the car and she's still inside. Progress in civil rights looked a whole lot different to African Americans than to whites in the 1960s.

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