In the novel “The White Tiger” written by Aravind Adiga

In the novel “The White Tiger” written by Aravind Adiga

In the novel “The White Tiger” written by Aravind Adiga, the words ‘Light’ and ‘Darkness’ could be spotted easily in almost everything Balram (the main character) mentions and explains. It is because those words are the central points of how the main character’s life has become. The writer used various phrases which seemed simple but has a meaning related to the story such as ‘men with small bellies and men with big bellies’ which will be explained afterwards. In this essay, I will be explaining how Balram divides India into ‘light’ and ‘darkness’ and how he has an appropriate understanding of his world and of himself based on his division.

In the book, Balram described the Black Fort as a metaphor and a place where he was afraid to explore when he was a kid but finally had the courage to enter when he returned to Lexmangarh as a driver. He then continued that ‘Eight months later, I slit Mr Ashok’s throat’ (Balram, p.42) which seemed odd to understand but it does have a strong meaning. It is used as a symbol for Balram to overcome the ‘darkness’ and have courage to search for ‘light’. In the novel, Balram’s fear of entering the fort which could be called a path to ‘Light’ was because he did not have enough courage to break free from the ‘Darkness’. But the moment he entered the fort for the first time, he saw his village from above and described as the most beautiful sight. To continue, the sentence ‘They remain slaves because they can’t see what is beautiful in this world’ (The poet, p.40) which Balram agreed due to his belief that he has the power to see what those people could not and that was why he could get into the ‘Light’ by killing Ashok and took the master’s identity. In addition, he did not regret killing Ashok because he believed that was just a stepping stone for him to reach success and also said that their prime minister did the same.

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On the other hand, chandelier is the opposite of the Black Fort as it brings lightness. It was written in the novel that Balram has many chandeliers hanging in his office, drawing room and toilet as they are his prized possessions.

Balram said that India was divided into two parts called India of Light and India of Darkness. In the light, there is an ocean and in his place, the darkness, there is a river named Mother Ganga. He described Mother Ganga as the black river which is the area of Darkness with the quote ‘full of faeces, straw, soggy parts of human bodies, buffalo carrion, and seven different kinds of industrial acids’ (Balram, p.15). There were a lot of things happening in the Darkness which somehow seemed to encourage Balram to escape from being a servant. Firstly, people in the Darkness worshipped Hanuman because he was the role model of how a servant should serve the masters. Secondly, Balram has seen his father who did not have ‘the belly to fight back’ die from an unknown disease. Because of that, he said that he ‘cheated of my destiny to be fat, and creamy-skinned, and smiling’ (Balram, p.64). In the story, men with small bellies considered Darkness who get eaten and men with big bellies which considered Light who eat the Darkness.


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