The White Tiger
The White Tiger
This paper focuses on how Arvind Adiga creates a picture of the poor and the rich in his novel The White Tiger - The White Tiger introduction. The novel is the story of a man named Balram or Munna who from a lowly beginning becomes one of the successful businessmen in India.
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The novel allows the reader to see through the eyes of Balram how India is divided into rich and poor classes. Balram said that the subcontinent is divided into two: India of light which is located near the ocean which brings it light and the India of Darkness which is located by a river, the Ganga River which brings it darkness. ( The White Tiger, p.10). Balram was born in the India of Darkness and this is why he disliked the Ganga river which according to him “whose banks are full of rich, dark, sticky mud whose grip traps everything that is planted in it, suffocating and choking and stunting it.” (The White Tiger, p.10) Those who live in the India of light are the rich whom Balram describes as having bodies that are like a “ premium cotton pillow, white and soft and blank.” (The White Tiger, p. 17). What Balram says here is that absence of pain can be seen in the skins of the rich while the results of the daily struggle with life is obvious in the bodies of the poor. In his letter to the visiting Chinese premier, Mr. Jiabao, he gives the difference between Bangalore which is found in the India of Light and Laxmangarh which is the India of Darkness. According to Balram, a man has a choice to be good or not be good in Bangalore but in Laxmangarh, one does not have a choice. ( The White Tiger, p. 184).The rich get to enjoy all the luxuries of life but the poor do not have those luxuries like what happened to Balram’s father, a rickshaw driver who dies in a hospital without being given the necessary medical care.
As a result of their being different from each other, there is constant struggle between the rich and the poor. Baram justifies this by saying “ that the history of the world is the history of ten-thousand year war of brains between the rich and the poor. Each side is eternally trying to hoodwink the other side.” ( The White Tiger, p. 152). To Balram, the rich are animals. For example, he refers to the ambassador as the Buffalo, the man who owns the river inside the village and collects the fish from the fisherman as the Stork, the man who owned all the agricultural lands as the Boar, and the man who owned the worst land as the Raven. There were several instances in the novel that showed how the rich looked down on the poor. One instance was when Mr. Ashok asked Balram several questions all of which Balram answered correctly. Instead of admiring him, Mr. Ashok and his wife Pinky say that Balram does not really understand what he reads or hears. To them, Balram is one of those who are referred to as half-baked Indians. There is also that scene wherein one of his passengers ordered Balram to look for the Rupee which the passenger accidentally dropped and continued to prod Balram until he found it.
The poor however are not happy with their state of life in Laxmangarh . It is because of this that Balram’s father considers schooling as very important for he believes that it is the way to a higher state of life. Also with the inspiration from the district supervisor and his grandmother, Balram tries his best to learn how to drive and becomes a driver for Mr. Ashok. The poor also struggle against each other. For instance when Balram saw the opportunity to take the place of Ram Persad who had to go away after Balram accidentally discovers how he deceived his masters.
Novels like The White Tiger do not only tell the story of a main character; they also give the reader an idea of the kind of life that the people in the society of which the character is a member have. Through the main character, one comes to know the struggles, the joys, and the triumphs of these people like the people in India.
Adiga, Arvind. The White Tiger. Free Press: New York. 2008.