How I Learned to Drive

Li’l Bit’s Grandfather Character Analysis

Li’l Bit’s grandfather, also called Big Papa, is the husband of Li’l Bit’s grandmother and is played by the Male Greek Chorus. He is deeply misogynistic, believing that women have only two responsibilities: providing food and sex for men. He likens the way that he found his wife to a lion stalking a gazelle, viewing the world of sex as animalistic and, essentially, predator vs. prey. This is, of course, suggestive of Uncle Peck’s sexual coercion of Li’l Bit.

Li’l Bit’s Grandfather Quotes in How I Learned to Drive

The How I Learned to Drive quotes below are all either spoken by Li’l Bit’s Grandfather or refer to Li’l Bit’s Grandfather. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theater Communications Group edition of How I Learned to Drive published in 2018.
How I Learned to Drive Quotes

MALE GREEK CHORUS. (As Grandfather.) How is Shakespeare going to help her lie on her back in the dark? (Li’l Bit is on her feet.)

LI’L BIT. You’re getting old. Big Papa. You are going to die —v ery very soon. Maybe even tonight. And when you get to heaven, God’s going to be a beautiful black woman in a long white robe. She’s gonna look at your chart and say: Uh-oh. Fornication. Dog-ugly mean with blood relatives. Oh. Uh-oh. Voted for George Wallace. Well, one last chance: If you can name the play, all will be forgiven. And then she’ll quote: “The quality of mercy is not strained." Your answer? Oh, too bad — Merchant of Venice: Act IV, Scene iii. And then she’ll send your ass to fry in hell with all the other crackers. Excuse me, please.

Related Characters: Li’l Bit (speaker), Male Greek Chorus (speaker), Li’l Bit’s Grandfather (speaker)
Page Number: 14-15
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

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PECK. Your grandfather’s ignorant. And you’re right — he’s going to die soon. But he’s family. Family is... family.

LI’L BIT. Grown-ups are always saying that. Family.

PECK. Well, when you get a little older, you’ll see what we’re saying.

LI’L BIT. Uh-huh. So family is another acquired taste, like French kissing?

PECK. Come again?

LI’L BIT. You know, at first it really grosses you out, but in time you grow to like it?

PECK. Girl, you are... a handful.

Related Characters: Li’l Bit (speaker), Uncle Peck (speaker), Li’l Bit’s Grandfather
Page Number: 15-16
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

TEENAGE GREEK CHORUS. (As Grandmother.) Your grandfather only cares that I do two things: have the table set and the bed turned down.

Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Li’l Bit’s Grandfather Character Timeline in How I Learned to Drive

The timeline below shows where the character Li’l Bit’s Grandfather appears in How I Learned to Drive. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
How I Learned to Drive
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Family and Abuse Theme Icon
Sexuality Theme Icon
...commenting on the size of her breasts. The male chorus, in the voice of her grandfather, “Big Papa,” makes lewd jokes about them, saying she’ll need a “wheelbarrow” and that “her... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Family and Abuse Theme Icon
Sexuality Theme Icon
As Li’l Bit gets increasingly infuriated with her grandfather, Peck cautions her not to “let him get to you.” Li’l Bit makes an impassioned... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Family and Abuse Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Sexuality Theme Icon
Li’l Bit retorts that Big Papa is going to die soon, and that when he’s at the gates of heaven he’s... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Family and Abuse Theme Icon
Sexuality Theme Icon
...Li’l Bit isn’t sure what she’s referring too. The teenage chorus/grandmother explains how Li’l Bit’s grandfather has sex like “a big bull,” every morning and evening and even some lunchtimes. He... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Family and Abuse Theme Icon
Sexuality Theme Icon
...Bit’s grandmother was fourteen—and still a believer in Santa and the Easter Bunny—when she met Big Papa ; the male chorus chimes in as Big Papa to describe how he “picked your... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Family and Abuse Theme Icon
...“cancel” out hers. To make Li’l Bit laugh, Peck gets her to think of “ Big Papa chasing Grandma around the living room.” Her laughter makes for a “great” shot. (full context)