History Of The White Tiger English Literature Essay

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Aravind Adiga was born in Madras on 23 October 1974 to his parents Dr. K. Madhava Adiga and Usha Adiga. Aravind spent early part of his childhood in Mangalore. He went to Canara High School and later shifted to St. Aloysius High School where he stood first in state level Senior Secondary examination.

He studied English Literature at Columbia College in New York. He also studied at Magdalen college in Oxford.

Adiga started out as an financial journalist intern at Financial Times. His articles on stock market coverage and investment opportunities were published in Financial Times and Money magazine. He was hired by TIME magazine as a South Asia correspondent for three years. Later he started doing freelance work.

The novel "The White Tiger" examines India's rise as a modern global economy in the backdrop of crushing rural poverty.

At a time when India is going through great changes and, with China, is likely to inherit the world from the West, it is important that writers like me try to highlight the brutal injustices of society (Indian). That's what I'm trying to do - it is not an attack on the country, it's about the greater process of self-examination.

Aarvind explained that England and France evolved as better societies as a result of criticism by authors like Flaubert, Balzac and Dickens of the 19th century.

The Indian hardcover edition of "The White Tiger" has sold in excess of 200,000 copies.

Other Works

Adiga's second book "Between the Assassinations" was released in India in November 2008. The book features 12 interlinked short stories. His second novel and third published book, "Last Man in Tower" was published in the UK in 2011.


The White Tiger unfolds in a poverty stricken village in Bihar. Balram Halwai is the central character of the novel. The novel is narrated as a letter to the Chinese Premier by Balram. Balram narrates in the letter how he rose from being the son of a rickshaw puller to become a successful businessman. His wits guided him to become a successful entrepreneur.

In his early childhood, Balram, lived with his grandmother, parents and brother. Poverty and circumstances forced him to quit school in order to help pay for his cousin sister's dowry.

He was forced to work with his brother in a teashop in Dhanbad. Balram describes himself as a bad servant because did not have any interest in the assigned work. He however intently listened to the conversations of the customers and learnt about our government and economy. Balram dreamt of becoming a driver.

Balram learns how to drive and gets a job driving Ashok and his wife Pinky, the son of the wealthiest man in the village. In his letter to the Chinese Premier, Balram suggests that in next eight months he intends to kill his boss.

Balram moves to Delhi with Ashok and Pinki where he learns about the corruption prevalent in our society and government. The gap between the rich and the poor is clearly evident in the city.

Balram experiences how his employers bribe foreign ministers for tax breaks, barter for girls, drink single-malt whisky and play their role in Rooster Coop. He learns how to siphon gas, deal with corrupt mechanics, refill and resell Johnnie Walker Black Label bottles. He is sharp to figure a way out of the coop.

One night Pinky drives the car and hits something. She fears that she may have hit a child with her car and suggests that Blaram be set up for hit and run. The Police is lazy and corrupt and make no effort. Instead the Police suggests that there has been no claim for any missing child so there is no need for further inquiry.

Ashok is working hand in glove with the corrupt government.

Balram decides that he will be able to escape poverty by killing his boss and becoming rich overnight. One rainy day he kills his boss Ashok by hitting him a broken liquor bottle. Later he flees to Bangalore with his young nephew.

Balram starts his own taxi service in Bangalore. When one of his drivers kills a biker, Balram settles by paying off the Police and the family of the biker.

Balram rationalizes the loss of Ashok was necessary for monetary success of his new taxi company.

Significance of Title

The title is significant because both Balram and the tiger are distinctive, different beings. The white tiger is a rare breed of Tiger found in West Bengal, and Balram was also marked different and rare because of his intelligence. "That's what you are (the white tiger), in this jungle." 

The school inspector marked Balram from the beginning as unique and intelligent (like the white tiger), and Balram succeeded in showing the inspector to be right by achieving success against all odds (poverty). He rose from poverty and darkness to a world of riches, success and achievement. Balram did not take the traditional route to success via education, job etc.

Chief Characters

The novel revolves around Balram who is the central figure. Also, important are his boss Ashok and his wife Pinky.

The style of writing is narrative.



The White Tiger takes place in the modern day world where increased technology has led to world globalization, and India is no exception. In the past decade, India is the fastest booming economies. Globalization has led to creating an American atmosphere in India. This is evident from Gurgaon which is the most modern suburb of Delhi where most of the American Corporations including IBM, American Express, Microsoft, Dell etc. have offices. The main street is full of shopping malls with a cinema in each mall. So if Pinky missed going to America, the suburb was the next best place to be in.

Ashok is even convinced India is surpassing the USA, "There are so many more things I could do here than in New York now...The way things are changing in India now, this place is going to be like America in ten years. Balram is noticing the rapid growth as well. Balram plans to keep up with the pace of globalization and change his trade when need be. "I'm always a man who sees 'tomorrow' when others see 'today'. Balram's recognition of the increasing competition resulting from globalization contributes to his corruption.


The novel is about a man's quest for freedom. Balram, worked his way out of his low social status and poverty. He overcame the social obstacles that limited his family in the past. Climbing up the social ladder, Balram sheds the weights and limits of his past and overcomes the social obstacles that keep him from living life to the fullest that he can. Balram cites a poem from the Muslim poet Iqbal where he talks about slaves and says "They remain slaves because they can't see what is beautiful in this world. Balram sees himself embodying the poem and being the one who sees the world and takes it as he rises through the ranks of society, and in doing so finding his freedom.

Immoral Corruption

Balram was an intelligent child. However, growing up, he was exposed into a lot of corruption and immoral behavior, such as the time when his mother was being burned and it looked as though her foot was resisting the fire. Balram ends up doing anything to get himself into a higher caste and into the light. Balram becomes very selfish, evident by his many of his actions were equivocal in nature. This can be seen as both an immoral and moral way to improve oneself, especially if the country as a whole; cheats, lies, and is full of deceit. His actions might be justified from the standpoint that anything since he was part of the loosing crowd he might as well join the crowd that is winning, also known as "if you cant beat them join them." Finding ways to ensure the competition does not succeed, finding ways to get ahead of everyone else, and coming out on top are all a big part of the world and if you are constantly loosing then you might as well play dirty to win. It can be seen as being moral because of competitive nature of our globalized capitalist economic system. In a capitalist economy, any way one can get ahead is fair game. He cheats people to put himself in a position to gain for himself. Balram does everything in his power for personal gain, even killing his boss.

The Rooster Coop

The author frequently mentions the rooster coop when describing the situation or characteristics of the servant class in India and he also defends himself for murdering his master with it. The author first describes how the rooster coop looks like in the market in Old Delhi:

"Hundreds of pale hens and brightly colored roosters stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages, packed as tightly as worms in a belly, pecking each other and shitting on each other, jostling just for breathing space; the whole cage giving off a horrible stench…The roosters in the coop smell the blood from above. They see the organs of their brothers lying around them."

However, the chickens are not trying to escape from the poor-constructed cage. Hence, the author compares those chickens living in a miserable condition with the poor class in India. "The very same thing is done with human beings in this country". From his analysis of the structure of the inequality in the country, the author comes to believe that liability for the suffering of the servant also lies with the mentality of the servant class, which he refers as "perpetual servitude". This ideology is 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".

According to his philosophy, individual action is the key to break out of the rooster coop and the servants are self-trapping. He validates his evil actions to his master by saying, "I think the Rooster Coop needs people like me to break out of it. It needs masters like Mr. Ashok - who, for all his numerous virtues, was not much of a master - to be weeded out, and exceptional servants like me to replace them.''