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The Play ‘How I learned to drive ’by Paula Vogel


Paula Vogel was brought up in Washington, DC. She graduated from Catholic University with a B.A in drama. However, her graduate study was turned down at Yale school of drama thus became very difficult for her to get her early plays produced.

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Nevertheless, she kept on working towards her craft, thus taking controversial themes that include the most illustrious play which won Pulitzer prize, ‘How I learned to drive.’ Paula Vogel dedicated the play ‘how I learned to drive’ to Peter Franklin. This paper critically analyzes the play ‘How I learned to drive’ about the development of the characters and the degree of the stereotypes.

Development of the characters in the play and their degree of stereotypes

The play consists of various characters namely; Peck, Li’l bit, The Greek chorus, Female Greek chorus, the teenage Greek chorus, and Male Greek chorus and many more. They represent the whole outlook of the entire community in their respective different fields. The following section analyzes the characters in the play and the degree of stereotypes exhibited.


Peck in the play represents a man who is in the forties. Peck is one of the main characters in the play that plays the role of a modest man, husband, and son. Peck, who takes part in the play as the uncle of the li’l bit, describes the character of many men that have families in which they do not derive satisfaction from their wives.

Peck admits that his wife is beautiful but at the same time wants to divorce her for Li’lbit. He seems to strongly perceive the value for a family when he undertakes that the family is family and nothing changes that regardless of the old age, behavior or anything else. He is jovial and in some cases tends to be a bit more serious when carrying out sensitive issues especially when giving driving lessons to Li’l Bit. The positive aspect of Peck is his act of generosity and appreciation.

Peck attributes generosity and appreciation particular in the situation when the waiter served him; he admitted that the services were exceptional to the extent of allowing her to keep the change. Allowing the waiter to keep change is an act that really demonstrates Peck’s generosity.

On the other hand, Peck portrays some disruptive behaviors, especially towards his niece. He lacks moral uprightness and disrespects his wife. In most cases, Peck has been considered as drunk and thus failing in his core responsibilities as a concerned husband to Mary. He admits that his wife is beautiful but not as Li’l bit thus trying all that he can to make the young girl feel that she means everything for him, worse enough he, later on, proposes to her.

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As the play ends, it is apparent that Peck had lost all he had built over time because of his devious behavior that portrayed lack of respect to his wife, niece and other men in general.

He lost his family in addition to his career because of falling into the love trap of a small 13-year-old girl. This is indicated in the ending part of the play, where he lost his driving license and found in bed as he proposes to marry the young girl LI’l bit who after hearing so was scared and runway. This, of course, hurt his wife Mary despite the love and trusts she had bestowed on Peck, her husband.

Li’l Bit

Lil bit in the play portrays a young girl who is aged thirteen. Li’l bit in the play stereotypes young modern girls that have little or nothing to do with the traditional usual setup. The girl, as young as 13years old, stereotypes the contemporary and dynamic changes that have taken place on the current digital generation. This also puts into consideration the traditional practices that to a great extent have ruined the moral values considerations.

Female Greek Chorus

Female Greek Chorus represents mother, Aunt Mary, and the high school girls, while at the same time Teenage Greek chorus undertakes grandmother, high school girls and the voice of the eleven-year-old Li’l Bit. The play represents several stereotypes that take place in a society concerning the moral degradation and family disputes that take place in line with social values and traditional practices that have been passed by time.

Female Greek chorus stereotypes most of the wives who are left in the house who still holds the traditional beliefs and not changing with the modern way of living. In their views, young girls should not be enlightened on matters of sex and other modernity attributes. They represent women who made mistakes during their teenage life. Hence, end up getting married to men they did not love thus regretting the mistakes they did by passing the blame to others and not themselves. They are seen to resist still undertaking a positive attitude in life.

Teenager Greek chorus

Teenager Greek chorus in the play represents grandmothers and young women in the society who are willing to pass wisdom to the young generation not to make unnecessary mistakes thus making society a better place for everyone.

Male Greek chorus

Male Greek chorus in the play stereotypes grandfather, high school boys, and waiter. This character underpins the need for demonstrating integrity, discipline, and self-control on activities that influence the relationship with other people in life.

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The character undertakes to be sensitive to other people’s feelings and the intended motives. He emphasizes the need to respect other people in society for the sake of coexistence. It is also important for the old generation to input moral values to the young generation in manners that are unlikely to ruin their life in the future.


The play ‘how I learned to drive’, is very educative and entertaining and incorporates characters that represent the whole part of the community in relation to different happening that takes place. The primary areas of emphasis in the play involve the cultural changes that continue to be experienced in the reflection of modernity that takes place from time to time.

The play also undertakes to reflect the social activities that take place starting from the family set up in which the relatives attributes some unexpected behaviors to the people very close to them. There should be another side of the play that portrays the positive side of a properly designed family that takes all the necessary ethical requirements in society. In getting across the points, this family set should demonstrate good relationship amongst all the family members, in addition to undertaking the positive contribution to the overall society.

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