What do you think of when you think of Atlanta, Georgia? Peaches? The world's busiest airport? Chipper Jones?
Back in Miss Daisy's day, Atlanta wasn't exactly the land of the free and the home of the Braves. It was a starkly stratified society. There were plenty of poor whites in the south of Miss Daisy's time, and not all blacks were poor. But most blacks were in the lower economic and social strata, victims of the legacy of slavery and segregation that created a southern culture were whites were the dominant class.
Blacks were expected to be subservient and acquiescent. They were denied the equal educational and employment opportunities that would allow them entry into the middle class. They were completely shut out of the political process that might give them a vehicle for working towards social equality. During the civil rights struggle, whites were afraid that the old southern way of life would be lost. (Source)
During the 25 years covered by Driving Miss Daisy, segregation gradually yielded to the civil rights era and the legal end of segregation. By the time Hoke's old, his granddaughter is a college teacher. Discrimination and inequality were still harsh realities, though. And to the end, Hoke calls Daisy "Miss" and she calls him "Hoke." The Old South hadn't completely disappeared.
Questions About Society and Class
- Does Miss Daisy live a modest lifestyle?
- Why doesn't Miss Daisy like being called rich?
- Does Miss Daisy treat Hoke differently because he is of a lower class, or because he's black?
Chew on This
Daisy's own modest upbringing makes her uncomfortable thinking about herself as someone with servants who doesn't manage on her own.
Daisy's a believer in "knowing your place," which is why she thinks Florine's efforts to hang out with the Christian society ladies is just a joke.