“The White Tiger”- Class Struggle from a Humorous Perspective

“The White Tiger” (2008), a Man Booker Prize winner novel by Arvind Adiga is his debut novel.

Compelling, angry and darkly humorous. The White Tiger is an unexpected journey into a new journey into a new India. Adiga is a talent to watch.
   -Mohsin Hamid

The story revolves around Balram Halwai- a self declared “self-made entrepreneur”, a rickshaw puller’s son who skillfully climbs India’s social ladder to become a chauffer and later a successful businessman.

The novel is in epistolary form. He writes from his office in Bengaluru to Chinese officer Premier wen Jiabo with the goal of telling him about India.

The novel’s specialty is the simple language used to describe complex political and social theories. Balram belongs to the village Laxmangarh or “Darkness”, as he names it. Throughout the novel, we get to see Balram’s perspective of rich and poor. He is the psychopath-anti hero who killed his employer Mr. Ashok. He justifies his actions in the whole process.

“You can take almost anything you hear about our country from the prime minister and turn it upside down and then you will have then you will have truth thing.”

Balram in his letter

The subtle statements arouse emotions of humour and also give the facts. The novel is written in the tradition of ‘expose writing’. This uses plots as a means to examine social institutions. Balram’s dark comic provides an ironic yet emotional edge to the work. Balram holds positive view of the caste system. He expresses a significant degree of nostalgia praising the orderliness. In his mind people were struck where they were and considered it as the natural state. So there was a general sense of satisfaction.

On this context he puts forward the theory of Rooster Coop. It is Balram’s metaphor for describing oppression of India’s poor class. Roosters in a coop watch the other get slaughtered, but are unwilling to rebel and break out of the coop. He actively argues that poor stop each other from escaping. Therefore the Rooster Coop is guarded from inside- thinks Balram.

Animal imagery is yet another humorous aspect to illustrate the flaws in social conditions. The four landlords who oppressed the villagers are namely The Stork, The Buffalo, The Raven and The Wild Boar. These landlords resemble the characteristics of respective animals. The other names are The Mongoose and Country Mouse.

And then, thanks to all the politicians in Delhi, on the fifteenth of August 1947, the day British left- the cages had been let open… Those were the hungriest, ferocious, had eaten everyone else up and grown big bellies.

The statement draws connection between the animals and how people of India live.

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