The White Tiger
The White Tiger’ is the Debut Novel by Indian Writer Aravind Adiga
In The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Balram is initially portrayed as an appealing character despite informing us of the horrific crimes he has committed. His words, thoughts and deeds reflect his good nature in the beginning. But by the end of the novel, Balram is overtaken by impurity and corruption. He was not born evil, ultimately it was a change caused by the culture of India. We are given the two opposing descriptions of India, The Darkness and The Light, which demonstrates the idea behind two castes in India. The Darkness represents the lower caste full of deprivation and oppression. The Light on the other hand is the upper caste, overflowing with the crooked and unfairness.
The Difference between The Light and The Dark was not only who was in these categories, but also the difference of area into which children are raised. The Light is part of the cities which strive towards the future, one with new businesses, many jobs, and a buselling social setting. This is also however where corruption and deception thrive. The Darkness on the other hand is found in smaller villages where it is less technology based and more based on physical work. The differences between the two are so extreme yet geographically based not far apart. Yet, the poor do not attempt to escape from their caste, even though many would expect it to happen. This is due in part to the idea of the rooster coop presented throughout the novel. This idea lies in part due to the analogy presented about the rooster coop. The poor people of India view themselves as just that and proceed to remain in their current situations with the lack of hope. Balram however, had a different opinion on this.
He is just a child born into The Darkness, one who is expected to work for all his life and do what all men do and provide for their families. He is just a child whose family has “no time to name”, and as a result he goes by the name of Munna which just means “boy”. Balram is hired at the local tea shop making little money and losing all sense of himself by “his job with near total dishonesty, lack of dedication, and insincerity’. Balram in search of a better job and a better life decided to find work as a driver, and even then his family has pressured him to “send every rupee [he] make[s] every month back to granny”. After Balram gets the job and becomes a driver he realizes that his family had been trying to “scoop him out from the inside and leave him weak and helpless” as they had already done with his father. This drastic realization of the reality he truly lives in spurs a movement inside of him in which he shifts away from his previously held morals and the ones of his family. This denotes the crucial transition, the beginning of his downward spiral. Balram discovers the hidden secret of Ram Persad the other driver, and instead of just keeping it to himself and he once would’ve done he “took [his] key chain from him and put it in [his] pocket”. This could be viewed as Balram’s first act of malicious intent. Although he still retains some of his morality through feeling guilty Balram really notices that the more malicious he is, the happier he is. Being born into The Darkness makes Balram act as a savage animal, one who values individuality and independence more than he values his morality. Balram is not an evil person, but one simply trying to escape from his current situation by any means necessary.
The belief that freedom is his one true desire in life leads to some of his more extreme actions and viewpoints, hence the murder of his former employer Mr Ashok. Which represents Balram’s shift into The White Tiger, “The creature that gets born only once every generation”. Balram belives that the murder of Ashok saves him from the shackles of the Darkness. However, Balram did not always view Ashok in such a way. When Balram gets hired as a driver Ashok goes into his room and exclaims that “[him] and Ram Persad will both get a better room to sleep in” as the one they currently were in was atrocious and an example of an unsuitable living condition. Yet as time goes on the attitude Balram once held about Mr Ashok changed. Ashok claimed that “Balram was part of the family’ when in reality he wasn’t and instead was forced to take the blame for a crime which he had not committed. This made Balram’s blood boil in which he even threatened to “go out and cut the throat of some rich man”. He feels betrayed and used by someone he had so much faith in. When Pinky Madam leaves Ashok his personality and his beliefs change as well. He starts doing things which Balram would not have held to him. Ashok gave into the fat mans request and went into the hotel with the golden haired woman and he walked into the building “like a guilty little boy about to do something very bad”. Balram soon becomes disillusioned with Mr Ashok and loses all the respect he once had towards him. Although Balram soon after began to shift attitudes in a way which mirrored those of Mr Ashok, “all these changes happened in [him] because they happened first in Mr Ashok”. How can the driver remain innocent when the master is so corrupt? In a way this unleashes the hidden desires deep in Balram’s mind and the need for him to escape out of The Darkness and into The Light.
He starts to take advantage of Mr Ashok and what he offered him as a way to earn more money for himself and make himself feel happier. The red bag the symbol of freedom and wealth, and the final piece in Balram’s mind to the end of his life in the darkness. The red bag contained not only physical money and could provide him with wealth, but it was also a way for him to see himself. Furthermore, this inadvertent desire to obtain what he was so close to finally receiving, he does the unspeakable and kills his master, the one that gave him so many opportunities that others from his caste may not have received. He dehumanizes Mr Ashok as a way to prevent himself from seeing him as a person and feeling some kind of resentment for his actions and for the realization that he had in fact murdered another person,and one who he at one point was so close to. The reality of Balram’s life was that he was born a servant, nothing more nothing less, and as a result he was not respected by those around him. The feeling which he received from people in his life furthered his shift towards becoming the white tiger and making his actions seem justifiable in his mind. Even though Balram has done so many malicious things he still views himself as successful and even justifies it with the idea that all it took was someone elses money and hard work. Overall Balram becomes nefarious due to the setting into which he was raised, and Aravind Adiga demonstrates that the portion of India associated with the future, technological advancement, and the rich, is also associated with the consuming factor of corruption. Balram goes from being a rooster stuck in the rooster coop of The Darkness, to the white tiger, an animal so rare, and part of the light.
White Tigers: the not so Colourful Truth
The White Tiger. The name itself is characteristic to the whole book’s purpose. Aravind Adiga carefully weaves together vibrant symbols to provide the reader with a profound understanding of the book. He exposes corruption throughout all of India’s institutions. While corruption breeds corruption, a greater revolution remakes society. This is a fault in Balram’s character as he is certain that in order for him to escape the corruption, he must become part of the system, adding to the quantity of exploitation. He is able to highlight India from different perspectives, addressing various heavy topics while including a light sense of humour. This book is saturated with several pairs and dualities. He discusses the “Light” versus the “Dark,” the stark binary opposition every society has. He is able to correspond with rich and poor halves, men with big bellies and small and the privileges the rich have where the poor do not. While the rich bask in the skyscrapers enjoying comforts from the light, the poor slave away in the darkness, cast by the shadows from the very same skyscrapers. Aravind Adiga has crafted a book with such an advanced use of symbolism, is has significantly driven the whole novel.
Balram was set apart at a young age by his intelligence and integrity. He is very different from those back in his home environment. A White Tiger is rare and as the school inspector called it, “Exists once in every generation.” It represents power, freedom and individuality, many things Balram claims to identify with. This motivates him to advocate for himself and fight for his own advancement. He chooses to live life by his own turns, disobeying traditional morals and legal standards. This book documents a man’s quest for freedom and sheds the weight and limits of his past. It is somewhat of a memoir of his journey in India’s modern day capitalist society. Balram has overcome all social obstacles that society has tried to prevent him from living life to this fullest.
Over the course of the book, Balram undergoes different transformations to construct his own identity. He dedicates himself to self-improvement and he is even willing to destroy who he once was and any connections to his past life. He sees identity as fluid and later takes the identity of his late master, Ashok Sharma. He changes who he is to compete, he decides to start a taxi company as he realises that is how to become successful in the city of Bangalore. The book depicts the modern day Indian society with a free market and free business but it illustrates how it can create economic division. Balram has labelled them the “Light” and the “Dark.” The light shamelessly exploits the ones from darkness, in result, making them even poorer. It shows how our economic system today creates socioeconomic gaps that create a big division in society. This economy limits opportunity, social mobility and health for the poor. It takes extreme measures for someone to escape and earn the same rights as the rich. Balram chooses to commit murder and free the chains and control his own identity. The chandelier in his office is more recognised to belong to richer class but Balram owns one in his 150-square-foot space in Bangalore. Balram has always been weary of lizards, once in his childhood, he does not attend school in fear of a lizard that lurked in his classroom. Not much has changed as he is an adult. A lizard signifies darkness, fear and phobia. Lizards choose darkness over light and love. The Chandelier keeps the lizards away. “Its the truth, sir. Lizards don’t like the light, so as soon as they see a chandelier, they stay away. This chandelier represents Balram’s transformation into a man. It shows the materialistic success he encountered when he finally became an entrepreneur and independent businessman. It not only sheds light on him as he is awake at night, it also casts light on him, amidst the darkness that still exists in everyday India. Balram refuses to give in to the power of darkness. The darkness that surrounds others is distinguished by a shortage of ambition, leading lives of servitude and unable to choose the paths of their own lives. The servants surrender to their masters and accept the lives they were born into, unlike a white tiger that prefers to determine his own fortune.
We can see the inner conflict Balram has with himself when he recognises that the darkness is inescapable without some form of resistance. He faints only twice in his life, once including when he went to this zoo with his nephew Dharam. “…. as it paced back and forth in a straight line was a tiger. Not any tiger. A White Tiger.” He perceives the white tiger trapped in a cage and sees himself. His current predicament of servitude serves as his own cage. He was hypnotizing himself by buying into his life of servitude just like the tiger. “He was hypnotizing himself by walking like this-this was the only way he could tolerate this cage. Balram embraced his master wholeheartedly, he treated Ashok Sharma with great love, to distract himself from the fact that he was living the life his father desperately wanted him to break free of. The look Balram shares with the tiger to the look Ashok shares with Balram, as if Balram himself is the caged tiger in Ashok’s eyes. When the white tiger vanished, Balram had fainted. However, this vanishment meant that the caged version of Balram no longer endured. Hatred began forming in Balram as he saw the harsh ways they tried to drain the life out of his father preventing either of them from every advancing up the social ladder.
Adiga uses graphic animal imagery to leave a vivid picture of India in your mind comparing it to a zoo-like state. Characters like the stork, the buffalo, the raven and the wild boar are all animals in Balram’s mind. He compares it to the way animals live and how people in India live. “On the fifteenth of August, 1947 – the day the British left – the cages have been left open; and the animals and attacked and ripped each other apart and jungle law replaced zoo law. By stating that the cages had been “opened” it resembles people of India being animals, ripping each other apart having been imprisoned by the British. When the Indians had a “master” – the British, they were controlled animals in a zoo. However, as soon as they didn’t have a “master,” they were animals in a jungle; wild and hostile. “Why had he raised me to live like an animal? Why do all the poor live amid such filth, such ugliness? This proves that the lower class are dependent on the upper class for survival and “stuck in cages.” A larger cage that exists on the civilisation is the “rooster coop.” Roosters feel uncomfortable together so when one gets taken away to be slaughtered, they’re happy. The rooster coop is guarded from the inside. They watch each other get slaughtered one by one but none are willing to rebel or breakout. Kusum, his grandmother wants Balram to get married so they can be given a dowry from the girl’s family but short-term fortune. Nevertheless, Balram recognizes this and refuses. The rooster coop further their own oppression through short-term thinking and family obligation such as Kusum’s motives. Rather than protect Balram’s best interests, Kusum compromises his future. Balram expressed how the water buffalo was the master of the house. It was the fattest one hence it is the one that survives. As Balram wanders through the butcher’s quarters in Old Delhi, he notices the big buffaloes standing in each shed. As he stares at the buffalo, his mind imagines the consequences of his own rebellion against his master. As he breaks away from his daydream, he notices a buffalo pulling a cart full of dead buffalo heads, he leaves as the dead buffalo pictures his family if he were to commit the murder against Ashok.
The lives of the lower class are determined by when it is convenient for their masters. In Bangalore, the workers work all night and sleep all day, like animals. This is all inconvenience for their masters in the US who are on different schedules. Although the servants understand the lives they live in, they don’t even look for freedom, this emphasizes the impoverished conditions in which they live in. “A handful of men in this country have trained the remaining 99.9 per cent – as strong, as talented, as intelligent in every way to exist in perpetual servitude; a servitude so strong that you can put the key of his emancipation in a man’s hands and he will throw it back at you with a curse. Vijay, Balram’s childhood idol managed to renew himself in society. All the poor are unwilling to confront the truth and the possibility of social mobility so freedom still remains out of their grasp.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: Enlightenment and Religion
A discussion of the Enlightenment’s attitudes towards religion is necessarily a complex one and cannot be answered without reference to historical influences on the social situation in Europe, and contemporary political and scientific developments. Absolute rejection of the existence of a God on the part of Enlightenment intellectuals was rare, while the concept of man as innately reasonable lead to a rethinking of established religious doctrine and the role of the Church within society. Many intellectuals, who found that the doctrines of orthodox religion offended their reason, turned to ‘natural’ religions founded on the belief of a Deity as evidenced by nature, which the rational man could observe and study for himself.
The central feature of the Enlightenment is its questioning of social tradition and established order found within society, its heritage, principles and values. The Enlightenment placed as its foundational principles, firstly, the belief in the capacity of human reason to gain knowledge independent of any revealed truth (i.e. religion), secondly, the autonomy of the individual and thirdly, the belief in the human capacity and indeed its obligation to shape the future of society. None of these points are incompatible with established religion, indeed much of Enlightenment thought was directed at harmonising revealed truth (i.e. scripture) with rational knowledge. They are incompatible, however, with the idea that the only source of truth and knowledge comes through divinely inspired scripture . The Enlightenment was opposed therefore to the idea of Religion having exclusive access to truth. Many Enlightenment thinkers saw the two streams of knowledge, both religious and secular as being separate and independent from each other. This belief ushered in the new age of secularism .
The conception of the separation of the Church and the Secular was in many ways conceived in the earlier development of Absolutist monarchies. The establishment of Absolutist governments changed the way people viewed their societies, shifting the perception of the construction of society from an organic one to a political one. As a result the perception of the foundational structure of society shifted from that of a ‘natural’ hierarchical order to that of a voluntary construction. Absolutism gave birth to the notion of human sovereignty. As the Reformation had asserted the value of freedom of conscience and individual religious liberty, so Absolutism paradoxically promoted individual freedom by virtue of the fact that power was no longer divinely ordained. Together they led to the birth of subjectivity whereby individuals came to conceive of themselves as having a mental life of their own independent of Church and State .
The scientific revolution also impacted on the Enlightenment’s attitudes towards religion. Copernicus’s heliocentric model of the universe was by the eighteenth century accepted in scientific circles as established and demonstratable fact, not simply speculation. Scientists like Newton proved by Mathematical calculation that laws, knowable through human inquiry, govern the universe. Philosophers, such as Grotius, Hobbes and Locke, interested in the social realm, took these discoveries and argued that if man could discover the law of universal gravitation surely they could govern themselves by the light of reason and by constitutional government, in effect a Newtonian system of government. Thus developed the doctrine of Natural Law that was to be so influential in the development of social theories and laws.
Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) claimed that nations were subject to natural law insisting on the validity of the natural law ‘even if we were to suppose…that God does not exist or is not concerned with human affairs’ . A few years later Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), defined the right of nature to be ‘the liberty each man hath to use his own power for the preservation of his own nature, that is to say, of life’ , and a law of nature as ‘a precept of general rule found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life’ . He then enumerated the elementary rules on which peace and society could be established. Thus, Grotius and Hobbes stand together ‘at the head of the ‘school of natural law’ that, in accordance with the tendencies of the Enlightenment, tried to construct a whole edifice of law by rational deduction from a hypothetical ‘state of nature’ and a ‘social contract’ of consent between rulers and subjects’ . John Locke (1632-1704) departed from Hobbesian pessimism to the extent of describing the state of nature as a state of society, with free and equal men already observing the natural law . In France, Charles de Montesquieu (1689-1755) argued that natural laws were presocial and superior to those of religion and the state , and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) postulated a savage who was virtuous in isolation and actuated by two principles ‘prior to reason’, self-preservation and compassion (innate repugnance to the sufferings of others) .
The joint impact of the belief in Reason and the changing attitude to the nature of human laws and the role of government contributed to the growing tendency towards religious tolerance within European States, though pragmatic reasons also played a part: the desire to avoid war and indeed a certain revulsion of war on religious grounds, linked in part to the experience of Europe over the seventeenth century of widespread war waged primarily over religious differences; the need for new, non-divisive bases for loyalty to the sovereign; and the need to attract skilled immigrants for economic development of the State .
Though established religion was on the receiving end of much criticism and debate on the part of Enlightenment thinkers, this did not translate into them rejecting all forms of religion or faith. Rather the various debates tended towards their desire to combine religious belief with the precepts of reason, expressed in various ways ranging from pious religiosity through to outright atheism, with the majority falling somewhere in between.
For many Enlightenment thinkers the power exercised by the clergy on its subjects was anathema and such intellectuals as Voltaire, Diderot and d’Holbach made it their mission to emancipate mankind from religious tyranny, both in terms of irrational belief in false ‘truth’ and also from the involvement of the Clergy in areas of knowledge that the Enlightenment thinkers felt to be outside of their jurisdiction.
Attempts were made to recast Christianity in a form that any rational person could accept. This led to serious questions being raised regarding the nature of the bible, which was full of what the Enlightenment thinkers believed to be irrational claims and unsustainable personal testimonies of the prophets and apostles. Miracles alluded to in the bible could not be believed either, as they overturned the laws of nature – and what God would break his own laws? This led to the undermining of the status and perceived quality of the Bible. In the process, revelation itself was criticised and lead to the ultimate questioning of the validity of the
A large proportion of Enlightenment thinkers turned to ‘natural’ religion, one that was free of the mysteries and miracles originally contained in the bible, put there, they argued, as a propaganda technique to bring people into the Christian fold. Even the pious began to subscribe to what is called ‘physico-theology’, an attempt inspired by science to explain God’s providence by reference to his work in nature and not primarily through his biblical word. Physico-theology was tame in comparison to Deism, a rational religion stripped down to a belief only in God . The Deist’s God was conceived as an abstract and distant figure, rather like a watchmaker who leaves his creation, the watch, behind as evidence of his existence. The person who finds the watch can know nothing of the watchmaker apart from his creation . Another form of natural religion which influenced the thinking of many philosophers was Pantheism, a term invented in 1705 by the freethinker and radical Whig, John Toland , to describe the belief that God and Nature are one and the same.
Whereas the attitudes outlined in the above paragraph largely stripped religion and faith of all but a rational understanding of God, the various pious movements that grew out of nearly all organised religions rather focused on a personal and emotional religious experience . These movements attracted many followers and became powerful social forces. In Prussia for instance ‘Pietism… enhanced the power of the ruler over the social elites and the Lutheran church, providing a powerful force for cultural unity in Prussia’s divided lands’ , due to the Pietists active social and political involvement in serving the poor and serving the state.
Religion in general was becoming more private than public, more individual than collective, and thoughts rather than ornate ceremonies began to define the believer. One indication of this lessening of the public role of piety was that ‘by the second half of the eighteenth century fewer families in both Catholic and Protestant Europe left money to the church in their last wills and testaments’ .
Many Enlightenment theorists expected that a well-constituted society would posses a ‘civic’ religion, upon the model of Rome – a faith designed to foster patriotism, community spirit and virtue. Voltaire, along these lines, was convinced that ‘it was essential that one’s servants and one’s wives too, should be pious, otherwise, lacking fear of God, such people would steal the spoons or be unfaithful’ . The religion that many Enlightenment thinkers proposed was two tier – ‘a simple, pure, rational religion for the elite, and a melodramatic faith to regulate the minds and hearts of the [masses]’ . Religion for the masses, as is evidenced by this argument, was seen as a utilitarian organisation for the purpose of imposing social order.
In conclusion, it is important to underline the complexity and range of attitudes towards faith on the part of the Enlightenment intellectuals. Very few intellectuals wanted to replace religion with an out and out unbelief. For one thing, most believed that science and philosophy, though casting doubt upon the existence of the specifically Christian, Biblical, God of miracles, nevertheless pointed to some sort of presiding Deity, a supernatural Creator, Designer, and Mind. The function of the established church was reduced to that of keeping order within the lower echelons of society, and outward conformity to public ceremonies was practiced by many Enlightenment intellectuals, whether they believed in them or not. The Enlightenment thinkers were quick to criticise the Church where it overstepped this role and tried to influence or control the spheres of State or Science, which were conceived as separate and autonomous bodies.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: Themes, Ideas, Symbols
What is your inner animal?
In Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, there are many different themes and central ideas. These themes include: corruption, religion, the light, and the darkness. With these themes come symbols that further examine and support them. In the White Tiger animals serve as a symbol in the life of Balram, as well as the life of the citizens of India. These symbols, animals, demonstrate corruption with status and the importance of a given role in the society of India. The animals that are used for symbols are: the buffalo, the stork, the wild boar, and the raven; the key factor that connects these animals is that they all represent a master or landlord. The names of these landlords aren’t even known because they are referred to as these animals so much. They all lived in mansions on the rich and pretty side of Laxmangarh, in the landlord’s quarters.
The Buffalo represents a landlord in Laxmangarh. Per Balram’s description he is “a stout [man] with a bald, brown, dimpled head, a serene expression on his face, and a shotgun on his lap (Adiga 22).” The Buffalo owned all the rickshaws and roads in Laxmangarh. So, if you wanted to use the road or a rickshaw in any manner you must pay him. He acquired this name from what part of Laxmangarh he claimed for business and from his resemblance to an actual buffalo. Much like the actual buffaloes of Laxmangarh this landlord is the greediest landlord of them all. The buffalos in Laxmangarh get fed the most and taken care of first because they are the prize possessions of each individual family. As the reader, can imagine the Buffalo gets paid first and he takes what he wants from the less fortunate people and servants. The people of Laxmangarh accept that the Buffalo is going to take what he wants because he has a high status in society.
Another landlord is the Wild Boar, he owned all the good agricultural land around Laxmangarh. He is depicted as having “two of his teeth, on either side of his nose, [which were] long and curved, like little tusks (Adiga 21).” As the reader, can now see the Wild Boar physically mirrors the attributes of an actual wild boar. He has the rights to the land that wild boars typically roam around for food in. Per Balram, on page 21, “if you wanted to work on [the agricultural land], you had to bow down to his feet, and touch the dust under his slippers, and agree to swallow his day wages.” This opens the reader’s eyes how corrupt the community is. The workers are treated so poorly, especially given that the workers are doing jobs the Wild Boar needs to get done. The landlords can treat the workers however they want simply because they are a part of the higher class and no one challenges this. The Wild Boar is even allowed to “howl” at females walking along the road from his car and nothing is wrong with this (Adiga 21). And if people have a problem with the actions of the landlord no one is brave enough to speak on it. The Raven is also a landlord in Laxmangarh. The Raven owned the dry, rocky hillside around the Black fort, he got his name from the way he punishes those who do not pay him his money. In the eloquent words of Balram, the Raven “[would] dip his beak into their backsides,” when he was not paid his money. The people who typically used the land where goat herders who led their goats there to graze. It is easy for any reader to see the corruption with this. How is it fair for anyone to charge others for land that is practically left to the public?
The last and final landlord is the Stork. The Stork claimed the river that flowed outside the village and he is a “fat man with a fat mustache, thick and curved and pointed at the tips (Adiga 20).” The Stork charged for fish that were caught by fishermen, as well as boatman who crossed the river. The Stork was an especially corrupt landlord because he also runs an illegal mining business. He continues to run this business by paying of the Great Socialist so that he will not get caught. Along the corruption of the Stork comes his two sons: The Mongoose and the Sheep, A.K.A Mr. Ashok. His two sons are corrupt as well. The Mongoose is just like his dad; he is not afraid to do whatever it takes to keep the family business going and he also treats his servants poorly. However, the Sheep is different, he is corrupt but he also sees the error in it. He does not want to proceed with bribing the politicians, he also sees the issue between how the servants lives and how the masters live. Although it is great that Ashok does see the corruption he does nothing to help change things, he simply continues to act the way society has learned to accept.
The major connection that these landlords must Balram is not only that they opened his eyes to the corruption of India, but they have also showed him how to be a good boss or master. When Balram gets his White Tiger driver service he says “I don’t treat them like servants – I don’t slap, or bully, or mock anyone. I don’t insult any of them by calling them my “family”, either. They’re my employees, I’m their boss, that’s all (Adiga 259).” Balram could see the corruption between those who have a higher status in India and make a change. While he still does partially partake in the corruption for example, how he still pays of the police (Adiga 265) he still at least tries to help by not taking a complete part in the corruption. Balram became the White Tiger, he became the only master that was different, he became the master that stood out from all the others. Just like the animals that represent the other landlords the White Tiger represents him and it shows his status in society.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Antagonist Analysis
Balram a revolutionary in Adiga’s The White Tiger
Balram Halwai, the anti-hero protagonist Aravind Adiga’s epistolary novel is a revolutionary in Bangalore. First, to be a revolutionary, you have to be special and Balram is the White Tiger of his generation. Second, Balram starts as a servant and climbs his way up the ladder and becomes a master. Lastly, Balram begins the novel as a social entrepreneur and then at the end becomes a business entrepreneur.
As a revolutionary, you cannot be an average Joe who wants to make a change; you need to be a special person who comes along maybe once in a generation. Balram is told early on his life that he is special, unique and the white tiger of his generation.
“You, young man, are an intelligent, honest,vivacious fellow in this crowd of thugs and idiots. In any jungle, what is the rarest of animals – the creature that comes along only once in a generation?”
“The white tiger”
“That’s what you are, in this jungle.”
This means Balram was born and raised in the darkness where the idea of a child with future is not likely but is an exception. In Bangalore most people are idiots and thugs, He is different from any other person because Balram is intelligent and a revolutionary. Balram is not any average Joe who just goes with the flow but he marches at his own beat. Any, other guy in Bangalore would just stick with the life he was born into, but Balram wanted to be something different, something only a unique man could do. He is the white tiger of Bangalore and he is the only person in Bangalore who can be a revolutionary.
Balram’s brains and uniqueness help him be a revolutionary in the world of Bangalore. In India, there are more servants than masters. Whichever position you are born into, usually mean that’s where you are going to stay. Balram starts out as a second driver, and works his way up the servant ladder and becomes the main driver. “ I was servant number one from now on in this household”. He is moving up the ladder faster than he should, and he finds ways to do it so he can keep his nose clean. He works his way up to the point where his master and him are almost equal.To fully become a master and finally stop being a servent Balram knew what he had to do to accomplish it.“But isn’t it likely that everyone in this world…has killed someone or other on their way to the top?…All I wanted was a chance to be a man–and for that, one murder is enough.” To be a revolutionary you need to commit crimes and this murder was part of Balram’s agenda. He had to kill Ashok so he can finally break free from his chains and become his a master. Balram’s goal as a revolutionary was to do the impossible to break the caste system in India, and start as a servant and become a master.
Lastly, Balram is a revolutionary because in the tough country of India he started as a social entrepreneur and then becomes as business entrepreneur. He often refers to himself as tomorrow or the next thing. “ I am tomorrow.” He is telling Mr. Jiabao that he is the future of being an entrepreneur, and that if he wants to know how to be an entrepreneur he should just ask Balram. He speaks about how to be a entrepreneur and what he says refers directly to what he does. “To break the law of his land, to turn bad news into good news, is the entrepreneur’s prerogative.” He has confidence in himself as an entrepreneur and pretty much says he is the best in Bangalore. He wants to be a self made man and make his want to the top. He is being revolutionary because most people in India are not entrepreneur but not only is he a social entrepreneur but his goal is to be a business entrepreneur. After he kills Ashok he takes the rupees and starts his own company and begins his life as a business entrepreneur. “ Then it hit me. I wasn’t alone- I had someone on my side! I had thousands on my side!” Balram has now made the full transformation into a business entrepreneur, and does what any entrepreneur would do and he bribed the police to drive the other companies out of business. Balram started the story out as a little kid and then became the best social entrepreneur in Bangalore and then became a successful business entrepreneur.
In Adiga’s novel Balram could be seen as a criminal or a revolutionary. Balram has committed crimes of murder and theft, but that is truly necessary if you want whatever your cause is to be successful. For example during the revolutionary war, many American patriots committed crimes against the king, for their cause. Thus, Balram did these actions because they were part of his plan to succeed a be a revolutionary.
The Use of Imagery to Portray the Flaws in India’s Social and Political Conditions in The White Tiger, a Novel by Aravind Adiga
A White Tiger in the Rooster Coop
Aravind Adiga uses animal imagery in The White Tiger to illustrate flaws in the social and political conditions of India. The title itself, and later Balram’s taxi company, is the first example we see of animal imagery. He further compares the social system of India to a jungle, zoo, and rooster coop, as well as various other references to animals throughout the novel. Through the use of animal imagery, Adiga is able to show the flaws of the social and political systems in India.
In The White Tiger, Adiga first uses animal imagery in his descriptions of the four landlords who oppressed his village, named The Stork, The Buffalo, The Raven, and The Wild Boar. He also references other characters with animal names, such as The Mongoose and country mouse. By comparing various characters to animals, Adiga begins to draw the connection between how animals live, and the way people in India live. He again makes this connection when describing the day that the British left India, saying “And then, thanks to all those politicians in Delhi, on the fifteenth of August, 1947 the day the British left- the cages had been let open; and the animals had attacked and ripped each other apart and jungle law replaced zoo law. Those that were the most ferocious, the hungriest, had eaten everyone else up, and grown big bellies” (Adiga 54). By saying that the cages had been opened, it seems like the people of India were animals, that had been imprisoned by the British. He describes the ensuing chaos as if the people were animals, ripping each other apart, in order to gain power. The animal imagery further portrays this chaos as ‘jungle law’ compared to the ‘zoo law’ which had previously been in place. While the British controlled India, the people were like animals in a zoo, but were like animals in a jungle now that the British left. This idea is developed further to describe the lower classes in India, or those in the Darkness, showing that they are like animals in a zoo, dependent on those of the upper class for their survival and acting as if they are stuck in cages.
Animal imagery is again used by Aravind Adiga to describe Balram, his fainting in the zoo, and India as a jungle. When a government official visits Balram’s school in his youth, he proclaimed that Balram was a ‘White Tiger’, saying “You, young man, are an intelligent, honest, vivacious fellow in this crowd of thugs and idiots. In any jungle, what is the rarest of animals- the creature that comes along only once in a generation? ‘The White Tiger’ That’s what you are, in this jungle” (Adiga 30). The man describes Balram as a white tiger in a jungle, again referring to Indian society as a jungle, and to its people as animals. It is also ironic that this government official appears to support the advancement and individuality of Balram, yet the government would prefer that his class remain in the Darkness and not actually advance in society or leave his caste. Balram later visits the National Zoo in New Delhi with Dharam, where they see many animals including a tiger. He describes the tiger, saying “The creature that gets born only once every generation in the jungle…He was hypnotizing himself by walking like this- that was the only way he could tolerate this cage. Then the thing behind the bamboo bars stopped moving. It turned its face to my face. The tiger’s eyes met my eyes, like my master’s eyes have met mine so often in the mirror of the car” (Adiga 237). Adiga first reiterates that a white tiger only comes along once every generation in the jungle that is India. He implies that Indian people of the lower castes must hypnotize themselves into believing that their conditions are acceptable, as the tiger must do in his cage to deal with his situation. Adiga also compares the look that Balram shares with the tiger to the look Balram has shared with Mr. Ashok, as if Balram is the caged tiger in his master’s eyes.
Adiga uses animal imagery to further represent the living conditions of people in India, how Balram starts his own business, and what he calls society, the ‘Rooster Coop’. Balram moves to Bangalore with Dharam, and describes the living conditions of the people there, saying “Let me explain, Your Excellency. See, men and women in Bangalore live like the animals in a forest do. Sleep in the day and then work all night, until two, three, four, five o’clock, depending, because their masters are on the other side of the world, in America” (Adiga 255). Once again, Adiga uses animal imagery to portray the working people of Bangalore. They work all night and sleep all day like animals in a forest, simply because their masters are on different schedules than them, as they are in the United States. As is a common idea in the novel, the lives of the lower class workers are determined by when it is convenient for their masters. Due to this, they are condemned to live as animals, working at all hours of the night. Balram also questions why his father, and other fathers in India continue to raise their children into the horrible caste system, asking “Why had my father never taught me to brush my teeth in milky foam? Why had he raised me to live like an animal? Why do all the poor live amid such filth, such ugliness?” (Adiga 128). By saying he was raised like an animal, he is using this imagery to describe the poverty which he and others grew up in, captivated in this endless system like caged animals. Their very captivity in their respective caste is given name by Balram, calling it the ‘Rooster Coop’. This is the idea that members of Indian society never seek to leave their caste, and accept that this is the social class they will belong to their entire life. In this Rooster Coop, Balram is trapped in his caste, kept in check by others in the Darkness if he ever tries to elevate in society. He explains the Rooster Coop by saying, “On the wooden desk above this coop sits a grinning you butcher, showing off the flesh and organs of a recently chopped-up chicken…The roosters in the coop smell the blood from above. They see the organs of their brothers lying around them. They know they’re next. Yet they do not rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop. The very same thing is done with human beings in this country” (Adiga 147). Adiga intentionally uses this animal imagery to portray the people of Indian society as caged animals who are not even looking for freedom. They know that they are controlled by the upper class, and know that they are treated like animals, yet do nothing about it. By capturing their conditions with animal imagery, Adiga is able to emphasize the impoverished conditions which they live in and accept as their permanent positions. He reiterates this idea, exclaiming to Mr. Jiabao, “A handful of men in this country have trained the remaining 99.9 percent to exist in perpetual servitude” (Adiga 149). Those in power in India managed to make the rest of the population believe they were stuck in their social positions, and there was no use trying to escape it. Finally, Adiga uses animal imagery in naming Balram’s taxi business, naming it White Tiger Drivers. This represents Balram’s transformation from the Darkness, into the Light, setting himself apart from the rest of the animals, just like a White Tiger does. Balram describes the way he runs his business, saying “Once I was a driver to a master, but now I am a master of drivers. I don’t treat them like servants…I leave the choice up to them. When the work is done I kick them out of the office: no chitchat, no cups of coffee. A White Tiger keeps no friends. It’s too dangerous” (Adiga 259). Adiga here uses animal imagery to portray Balram’s successful transformation from an animal in the Rooster Coop, to a successful White Tiger.
In The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga uses animal imagery to portray the social and political flaws of India through the voice of Balram. Through his comparisons to zoos, forests, jungles, and rooster coops, Adiga is able to illustrate the conditions that Indian people live in every day. Balram begins his journey as an animal in the Rooster Coop, but manages to become a successful entrepreneur free of influence from the rich and powerful.
The Effects of Globalization on Indian Culture in the Novel, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The spread of globalisation and its influence has opened many doors and has, to a large extent, impacted on the cultures and traditions of many countries in the globalising world. Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger showcases some of the most important aspects of the effects of globalisation on Indian culture, such as the disenfranchising of traditional structures such as marriage, family life and social mobility and the caste system. Globalisation is also linked with cultural corruption and Americanisation and westernisation, and has made social, ethical and personal boundaries more fluid and mobile. Balram’s motivations can be seen as prime examples of the changes occurring in India due to globalisation and his actions also reflect the changing cultural values and attitudes in globalising India.
The breakdown of traditional social structures such as marriage, family life, social mobility (or the lack thereof) and the caste system is a result of the vulnerability of tradition and culture to the changes brought about by globalisation. The spread of ideas, information and technology due to globalisation has impacted severely on the traditional ways of life in The White Tiger, and not only on Balram himself, but others around him. Balram’s master Ashok’s marriage to Pinky Madam is a break in the traditional ways of marriage as she is not from his caste and Pinky’s background as an American also threatens old cultural roles and ways of thinking. Ashok’s education in America and his return to India also upsets traditional methods and social roles within Indian society, such as his insistence on treating the servants better, which is derided by both his brother and father. The colonisation of India by the British also leaves the Indian caste system in a state of disarray; Balram illustrates this by saying that there are now only those with ‘big bellies’ and ‘small bellies’, illustrating the divide between rich and poor that colonisation and the spread of globalisation has left behind. The position of Balram’s family in the traditional narrative is also threatened; Balram chooses to leave them behind in order to pursue a new future in the rapidly globalising and modernising world. Globalisation has, to a large extent, impacted on the cultures and traditions of India in The White Tiger, resulting in the breakdown of many traditional structures and systems.
The Corruption of the Law Enforcement in Aravind Adiga’s Novel The White Tiger
“The corruption in reporting starts very early. It’s like the police reporting on the police (Julian Assange).” In Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, there is an abundance of corruption throughout India in the police department and law enforcement. Because of the corruption all over India, law enforcement has transformed into a system of bribed police officers that disregard the law for their own personal benefits instead of doing their job correctly and aiding the community.
Law enforcement throughout India has been corrupt for many years and is becoming more of an accepted way of life. It is becoming more of an exception rather than a rule. In The White Tiger, Mr. Ashok put the blame of the murder Pinky Madam committed onto Balram, a loyal servant of the wealthy family. Ashok instructs his lawyer to bribe the possible judge for the case. Despite Balram’s essentially calm exterior, he was thinking “The judges? Wouldn’t they see through this obviously forced confession? But they are in the racket too. They take their bribe, they ignore the discrepancies in the case. And life goes on (Adiga 145).” However, he said, not once did he think about telling the judge the truth about what had really happened. Balram briefly describes how corrupt the Indian law enforcement is and how if you were wealthy, they would accomplish anything they were inquired. Consequently, David H. Bayley concluded, “In sum, the Indian public not only believes that there is a good deal of corruption in the police . . . but about one out of five has seen it and a similar proportion has taken the lesson to heart and would take money with them in their dealings with the police in order to secure action (286-288).” A teeming amount of people have experienced corruption first hand in India and do not have trust in the police today. In fact, ‘the real problem is not the system, the real problem is that the people are corrupt (Quah).’
To break free of the “darkness” Balram must escape to the “light” to prepare himself for a better life that lies ahead. When he becomes the great entrepreneur he always dreamed of, Balram starts off running with his new White Tiger Drivers Company by paying off the assistant commissioner of the police department. Giving the assistant commissioner a small offering for his gratitude, ‘He counted the money—ten thousand rupees—heard what [Balram] wanted, and asked for double. [Balram] gave him a bit more, and he was happy (Adiga 256).’ This shows that most of the police in India will yield a bribe knowing there is a high chance that they will not get caught. According to P.C. Alexander, “ as the probability of detecting and punishing corrupt [police] behavior is not high in India, the public perceives corruption as a low risk, high reward activity as those involved in corrupt practices are unlikely to be detected and punished.” Even though there is a low risk, high reward most police officers believe taking bribes is above them since they mandate the law. It is because of the corrupt law enforcement that corruption is slowly getting worse in India. In fact, it is the people that are corrupt. These police officers will do almost anything to get more money and if that means breaking the law, then they will do it. “On the other hand, corruption is a fact of life in a country when cases of corruption are the exception rather that the rule (Pope).” It is because of corruption that people like Balram have a chance to get out of the “darkness” and escape into the “light”.
Throughout The White Tiger, Adiga expresses how corruption plays a part in the every day lives of India’s people. Balram takes advantage of the opportunities put in front of him and becomes part of the system and raises his social mobility. As Balram transitions into Ashok Sharma, he comes face to face with the police department to accomplish his objective; to gain his White Tiger Drivers Company a job. To do so, he bribes the police assistant commissioner, which helps him in the long run with some issues. When one of Ashok’s drivers had hit and killed a person’s brother with his Qualis, the brother insisted on filing a claim to the police. Ashok Sharma takes responsibility for the accident because ‘the assistant commissioner who sat in the station was a man whom I had lubricated often . . . He was the worst kind of man, who had nothing in his mind but taking money from everyone who came into his office. Scum. But he was my scum (Adiga 264).’ Because of the corruption throughout the police department, he was able to help himself and his company from failing. Ashok’s personal achievement was increasing his social mobility due to the corruption in India, and he would not have been able to accomplish his goal without it.
Corruption has become a way of life for most Indians, they accept it and move on. It has evolved into an exception rather than a rule in Indian society. There is becoming less trust in the Indian police to do what is right, because about one in five people have experienced the corrupt police department first hand. Instead of doing the moral thing, police officers in India have chosen to disregard the law for their own personal benefits to take in more money.
Novel Review: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Believing in yourself
Often times we are told we can’t do something, we aren’t good enough or simply that we won’t succeed but that isn’t always accurate. In the novel The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Balram is an average guy growing up in India. He gives up education to work for his family in order to support them. in India, the poor and the rich are set far apart which makes it easy to tell the difference between the two. People always told him he would never make it to the rich part, though he always told himself he would. The novel is written in the form of a letter from the perspective of the main character Balram to the Premier of China. In the letter, Balram talks about succeeding and fighting through obstacles in his life.
In India, children are generally expected to either not attend school or drop out to work and provide for the family. Balram worked in a tea shop and he eventually became a family driver. In the end of the novel, he succeeds in creating a wealthy taxi company.In the novel, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Balram goes on his journey from poverty to richness. Balram comes from a small village in India called Laxmangarh. Everyone seemed to love him because he was different from others. He was forced to drop out of school by his family to help pay back debt. He worked for a family as a driver but he was the second driver. Balram did anything to succeed and he eventually got the first driver fired so he could be moved into first place. Balram makes many unwise decisions and took many risks such as stealing money and committing crimes.
Although he made many unwise decisions throughout his life and dropped out of school, he succeeded in the end making a wealthy taxi service whilst making large profits. The novel really set the lower and upper class apart and Balram never thought he would even be close to the upper. With work, he quickly realized anyone can defeat hardships and accomplish what they want. A significant scene in the novel was whenever the author talked about light it would represent wealth and whenever he talked about darkness it would represent poverty.
In the novel there are many characters, Balram is the main character as well as the narrator, throughout the story he gets the want to become a businessman, he comes off as a smart guy considering he was a dropout. Mr. Ashok is essentially Balram’s boss he provides him with the job of being a driver, shows him more of the English language, and gets more engaged with the Indian government throughout the story. Pinky Madame is Mr. Ashok’s significant other, she doesn’t care about India, she frequently asks when Mr. Ashok when they will move to the United States. The Stork is Mr. Ashok’s dad he is well off in life, a very successful and enjoys talking about legislative issues. Vijay is the saint of Balram’s youth. He starts off from a group of farmers yet he works his way to being the best. He escape’s destitution and perseveres relentlessly until the point when he turns into a successful man. Balram aspires to be just like him.
The rooster coop, is a reoccurring analogy the novel. A chicken coop is portrayed as an encased region for hens and chickens where they are altogether pressed in together so firmly that there is scarcely any space to move. In spite of the poor living conditions, the chickens are not endeavoring to escape which is the reason the creator looks at them to the poor class in India. Balram Halwai’s adventure as he conquers many things to make his progress is very significant and is frequently stressed throughout the novel. Aravind demonstraes that one can’t achieve genuine progress without defeating trouble. The rich always get the best things in life, and all that we get is the leftovers(198).
The Concept of Hofstede Cultural Dimensions Theory in The White Tiger, a Novel by Aravind Adiga
The Hofstede dimensions which differ the most between the United States and India are power distance, individualism, long-term orientation, and indulgence. Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. The United States scored a 40 in the power distance dimension, while India scored a 70. A score of 70 indicates an appreciation for hierarchy, which is exemplified in Indian society. India’s society is a hierarchical caste system which designates a specific niche in society which you are born into. For a society such as this to function, an ability to ‘accept that power is distributed unequally’ must exist, or individuals would not remain trapped in their individual caste. Further, as the power dimension explains, they have acceptance of unequal rights between the power-privileged and those who are lower in society. Indian society has a top-down structure where an employee always has a supervisor, and is always being monitored. In The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, the narrator, Balram, is applying for a job as a driver for a man named Mr. Ashok. He asks Balram, “’What’s your last name again?’ ‘Halwai’ ‘Halwai…what caste is that, top or bottom?’” (Adiga 53). This again shows the unequal distribution of power in India, causing their high score in the power distance dimension.
Individualism is referred to as the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. The United States scores a 91 in this dimension, while India only scores a 48. India has a lack of Individualism, which is replaced by collectivism. This mindset makes individuals in India more likely to share ideas or be open to working in groups. In The White Tiger, Balram explains to us how he got his name. He at first took the name “Munna”, or boy, since everyone was too busy to name him. At last he was named by his first teacher, saying “Munna? That’s not a real name…It’ll be Balram” (Adiga 10). This clearly shows the lack of individualism in India, as something so seemingly important as a name could go unattended for so long. Collectivism overpowers individualism in India, resulting in their lower-than-average score in the individualism dimension of 48.
The long-term orientation dimension is another that India scores higher on, 51, than the United States, 26. This dimension describes how every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future. India’s high score suggests a lack of punctuality when working with individuals, as well as their tolerance for other religious views. Further, these societies tend to react well to changing on the go, and they do not need an exact plan. When working in Indian society, one might note if deadlines are strict or not, or be open to changing plans frequently when new ideas come to light.
The indulgence dimension refers to the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses. India’s low score of 26 in this dimension, suggests that they have restraint as a society. Actions are restrained by social norms, especially compared to Americans. The United States scored a 68 in this dimension, suggesting we have a tendency for indulgence.
Of Hofstede’s dimensions, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long term orientation would be the most difficult for me to deal with, when adjusting to Indian society. The masculinity and long-term orientation dimensions specifically would be difficult to deal with when working with others. The dimension of masculinity is defined as the desire to be the best, opposed to liking what you do. I prefer to have a competitive working environment. I find that this helps to motivate me and increase me performance. If I were to be working inside the Indian culture, I would struggle to work outside of my preferred environment, a competitive one. While I think it is a good thing to like what you do, I am more motivated by others in a competitive environment Long term orientation is how every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future. One trait of high scorers in long term orientation is lack of punctuality. On the other hand, I prefer set deadlines, and detailed instructions of what is expected of me. It might be difficult for me to adjust to a work environment in which these things were not important. In preparation, I could try to be more lenient with my deadlines and take on more flexible planning strategies.
The individualism and uncertainty avoidance dimensions would further cause conflict in my integration into Indian work culture. Individualism is defined as the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. In my ideal work environment, I would have some degree of independence, being able to work at my own pace and meet deadlines on my own. In a culture which is more collective than individualist, work is often collaborated on and supervision is close, which may be difficult to work with. Before moving into the Indian culture, I could attend classes in groups to improve my socialization with others in the workplace and my ability to work as a team. The uncertainty avoidance dimension is the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these. India’s score, a 40, indicates that most of society is willing to make changes to plans on the fly, and differ from plans. It also indicates a lack of emphasis on perfection, with a willingness to accept imperfections. I would need to adjust to work with this society, as I am more of a perfectionist, and plan to stick to a designated plan. To work on this, I could attend improvisation classes in preparation to enhance my ability to think quickly and react accordingly.