Postcolonial Elements In Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger
Postcolonial literature deals with various aspects including class differences and the representation of the subaltern or the voiceless. Lack of opportunities, deprivation of basic necessities, loneliness in a crowded world, alienation in one’s own country, subordination at all levels and being silent and resigned to one’s fate are all signs of the sufferings of the subaltern. These people are very important in daily life but are the most under-represented category of people. Adiga’s The White Tiger highlights the never-ending battle that creates friction between the haves and the have-nots. The brutal realities of society are clearly examined by Adiga. Diverse Indian society with its varied culture, beliefs and exotic details is well represented in this novel. The struggle between the rich upper class and the marginalized labor class is well depicted here.
Transformation from rural to urban and from agrarian to industrial is seen in the life of the protagonist Balram Halwai who is a self-taught entrepreneur. It is the survival of the fittest in India and the son of a rickshaw puller has no qualms in slitting the throat of his employer and fleeing with his money to Bangalore to star his new venture in a new high-tech city. Family and extended family are supportive at times but in many instances, they prove to be obstacles on the path of progress. Balram Halwai writes about his financial rise which was linked with his moral deterioration to the Chinese premier who is visiting India to learn about the secret behind India’s economic boom. Balram Halwai confidently predicts “White men will be finished in my lifetime” and only the brown and yellow men will go on to “rule the world” (Adiga 2008).
Being born in the darkness of rural India Balram Halwai enters the light through his job as driver at Delhi. Murdering his rich employee moves him from the darkness of servitude to the light as he becomes a businessman. The various images that fill the letters to the Chinese premier are the life of Delhi servants living in rotting basements, corrupt government officers, rigged national elections and the trendy and liberal life of the upper class. Balram Halwai’s rise in the society is also a sign of the immorality that existed in society that allowed such a rise. Halwai is not too disturbed by the murder as it seems to be the best thing and the right thing to do to achieve success.
The novel seems to suggest that if you want to succeed you need to choose to succeed by taking matters in your own hands the way Balram Halwai did. Balram Halwai’s early years was spent in the village of Laxmangarh which was ruled by the four animals – the Wild Boar, the Stork, the Buffalo and the Raven. Halwai had no name till his school teacher gave him a name for the sake of the school records. It is sad that the poor do not even have the right to have a name which is the sign of one’s identity. Balram Halwai’s intelligence earns him the name “White Tiger” and he proves that he is a rare species when he manages to rise above the servant class and become a businessman. The Indian underclass which is from a dark rural background is dominated by the upper class from a light urban backdrop. The underclass is always living a life of servitude not just because they are dominated by the upper class but also because they enforce it on themselves. He is not willing to die alone in a government hospital where there are no doctors but rather sees a better future for himself as a driver and takes driving lessons. The dark side of India which is unglamorous is part of the economic boom the Chinese premier is interested in. Inequalities exist even in the new India – the land of opportunities.
- Adiga, Aravind. The White Tiger. Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2008.