The Movie Driving Miss Daisy by Albert Uhry
The movie titled Driving Miss Daisy is a story that is centered on the friendship between an elderly Jewish woman Daisy Werthan and her African-American chauffer, Hoke Colburn. The movie was written by Albert Uhry and was based on the relationship between Uhry’s grandmother and her chauffeur. The friendship between Daisy and Hoke takes time to grow as they both go about their daily duties in society. The current paper seeks detailed insight on the themes and aspects of symbolism used as well as highlights of the movie, conflicts, and resolution. The paper also establishes some of the valuable lessons that can be drawn from the events in the movie.
Miss Daisy gets involved in a car accident, and this compels his eldest son Boolie Werthan to hire a chauffeur for her after the cops deemed her unfit to drive. The thought of having a driver was received with a lot of resentment from Miss Daisy who was unappreciative of the services rendered by Hoke even though he sometimes went beyond his call of duty and offered extra services like planting her vegetable garden. Miss Daisy is the antagonist of the story; this is exemplified in her difficult nature and her prejudice nature towards Hoke. Additionally, Miss Daisy does not embrace change easily and completely refuses the technological and modern way of life that his son constantly tries to push on him (Zanuck, Zanuck, & Beresford, 1989).
On the other hand, Hoke was very excited about the job, but this excitement wanes off when Boolie tells him more about the woman that she will be driving. Hoke is the protagonist of the story as exemplified in the way he gracefully accepted to take the job anyway even after Boolie gave him finer details about his mother. The conflict in the story first arises when Miss Daisy discovered that one of her cans of tuna was missing. He compels Boolie to fire Hoke on the grounds of stealing. However, Hoke apologizes and even replaces the can, thus, saving himself unknowingly. He even gained her trust in the process (Zanuck, Zanuck, & Beresford, 1989).
Conflict is also seen between Miss Daisy and his son Boolie in the way she refuses to embrace the modern way of life that his son lives. Instead, she holds on to the traditions of the old Southern Jews. The climax of the story happens when Hoke discovers that Miss Daisy is slowly losing her sanity when she started to believe that she was still a teacher. This marked the end of their time together since Boolie decided to take her to a rest home. Another climatic moment comes about when Miss Daisy tells Hoke that he is her best friend. This marked the end of their conflict, since at this point, she had finally accepted and acknowledged the importance of Hoke in her life (Hislop, 2015). In the end, Boolie sells her mother’s house, and Hoke visits her in the rest home, where he even helps her to eat her pumpkin pie.
One of the themes brought out in the story is that of society and class. At the time, the society in Atlanta was greatly stratified with many poor whites in the South. Most black people belonged to the lower social and economic class even though some of them were not poor. Blacks were victims of segregation and slavery that could be attributed to the creation of the southern culture where the dominant class was made up of whites. Another highlighted theme is that of inequality that was amplified by segregation. Black people were expected to be acquiescent and subservient. They were not given equal opportunities in education or employment, which would have helped to propel them to the middle-class level. Blacks could also not fight for social equality since they were completely locked out of the political arena (McGraw, 2001).
Point of View
The story was told in a very straightforward manner since there were no flashbacks or flash-forwards, thus, no narrative tricks. The 25 years of Miss Daisy’s life are told through vignettes through a few days in the lives of the characters after a number of years. Instead of using a montage to show the passage of time, time advancement is shown by using makeup to bring out wrinkles on Miss Daisy’s face and grey hair on Hoke. Even though the time shifts are somewhat confusing, they add some drama to the story similar to that from which the story was derived. The story is also useful in helping one to appreciate the modern Atlanta by relating various aspects of life and culture that represent the two time periods.
I did not like the attitude of Miss Daisy towards Hoke given that Hoke often offered to do more than he was hired to do. However, I still find reason to appreciate Hoke’s patience and willingness to serve amidst the challenges. Staying focused and honest helped him to earn the trust of Miss Daisy and her son, and this gradually changed her attitude towards him. It also enabled him to get a raise when the time was right and even afford to buy Miss Daisy’s old cars each time she bought a new one.
The movie is set in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a small town where everyone knows something about everyone. This made Miss Daisy to be so concerned with her privacy due to the fact that news about any event could be known by the whole town in a matter of minutes. The setting is that of the old South that was characterized by segregated neighborhoods. The movie takes a brief detour into Alabama when Hoke drives Miss Daisy to her brother’s birthday. The two miss the relative safety of Atlanta when they meet racist cops who question Hoke about the car he is driving. Regardless, the trip is till memorable for Hoke who had never been out of Atlanta (McGraw, 2001).
The vegetable garden has been used to symbolize the growing friendship between Hoke and Miss Daisy. In the early scenes, Hoke offers to help Miss Daisy to plant her vegetable garden. In fact, this is met by a lot of resistance and hostility. In the final scenes when Miss Daisy had succumbed to dementia, the dark and cold blizzard season is followed by a bright season full of tomatoes and other plants. The significance of these last scenes is seen when the two plant the garden together. The friendship that they have cultivated over the years is represented by tomatoes and plants that have finally grown and blossomed (McGraw, 2001).
The cars belonging to Miss Daisy represent the relationship between her and Hoke. It is inside these cars that most of their conversations were held. It was also through these cars that Hoke and Miss Daisy got first to meet and establish their friendship through the years. Hoke takes care of the cars like they were his own and when Boolie upgrades them, he buys the old ones. Even when Miss Daisy loses her memory, she still has fond memories of the Hudson and asks Hoke if he still has it. This is a representation of her relationship with her good friend Hoke (McGraw, 2001).
In my opinion, the story was told in a very unusual manner through the use of two main characters who were the complete opposites of each other. This added onto the suspense with the unfolding of the series of events. The formal antagonism between Miss Daisy and Hoke is gradually softened by the infinite patience and calmness exhibited by Hoke. This gradual shift of events created memorable events that led to the friendship of Miss Daisy and her chauffer. It is quite interesting to watch a mere chauffer rise to the point where he can be considered as a best friend taking into consideration their ethical differences and racial segregation experienced at the time.
The movie is also full of subtly complex but beautiful cinematography. The scenes are well blocked and are really captivating to the point where it is not so easy to notice the technical stuff. Even though the movie is very sentimental, the drama is so real. The fact that Hoke could not read at his age only shows how hard it was for Africans to get an education and even compete fairly in the job market. Thus, they had to settle for menial jobs like that of a chauffeur or a house maid.
Miss Daisy is a southern Jew who makes a vocal point of not being racist. She has experienced discrimination while living as a Jew in the South and likes to focus on her humble beginnings to the point where she is even embarrassed by her wealth. On the other hand, Hoke is a patient and hard-working person trying to give the best to his boss even when she tries to make the job unbearable for him. He still offers to do extra. He is also honest. This quality helps him to earn his bosses’ trust and somewhat influences Miss Daisy to change her attitude towards her. The two also come from different backgrounds and upbringing. Miss Daisy is educated and has grown in the world where she has never lacked material possession. She has also raised Bowie well and this is seen in the way he has grown to be a successful businessman. On the other hand, Hoke has grown among the poor, and this is seen in his lack of education since he could not read. Consequently, one of his best jobs amidst the difficulties is being a chauffeur. This is exemplified in his excitement when he was first given the opportunity. Their similarity stems from the value that they attach to meaningful relationships and friendships. Their friendship was not rosy, but it survived to the end.
The movie is very fascinating and somewhat dramatic with a lot of valuable lessons to be learnt. One of the main lessons that can be drawn from it is the importance of treating people with respect since they may turn out to be one’s only hope at some point. Miss Daisy treated Hoke with so much contempt and even accused him of being a thief at some point. However, when she could not do anything for herself, Hoke was the only person available to help, especially when her house help passed on and when she lost her sanity. He was there for her more than her family ever was to the end. One can also learn the importance of remaining focused on the goal rather than allowing oneself to get discouraged by the difficulties experienced. Hoke understood the value of his job as a driver rather than the meanness of the person she was driving. In the end, he actually owned a vehicle of his own and even managed to changed Miss Daisy’s perception about him.