Prompt – The White Tiger portrays a perpetual cycle of poverty and oppression faced by the people in ‘The Darkness’. Discuss.
In The White Tiger, written by Aravind Adiga, India is presented as a dichotomy, which is broken up into the ‘Darkness’ and the ‘Light’. These two contrasting settings provide the way that the caste-system is shown to be, in the eyes of the narrator Balram (and Adiga). While those who live in ‘The Light’ reap benefits of India’s economy and indulge in copious wealth, the large population that makes up ‘The Darkness’ are succumbed to extensive poverty and servitude. This archaic system is largely due to the extensive corruption present in society that Adiga addresses. Due to this corruption controlling India as a whole, low caste members of society are continuously exploited and thus a life free of servitude seems impossible. Furthermore, Balram’s escape from the Rooster Coop is a rare feat, and the social mobility required to do so is not possible for the masses. Finally, family, the core social unit is vital to a traditional way of life in the darkness in which families expect selfless devotion from their members, which influences those who live in the darkness to die in the darkness and live a life of poverty and oppression.
Corruption ultimately breeds corruption, and thus its presence in Indian society creates a never ending cycle of oppression and poverty for those living in ‘the darkness’. Balram’s father’s death largely reflects the corruption present in Indian society. Upon seeking medical assistance for his dying father, Balram is granted the realisation that the medical system is a system of scandal and bribery, controlled by The Great Socialist. The political aspect of corruption is represented by which votes are sold, rather than citizens given the right to vote. The rickshaw puller who was brutally bashed after exercising his right to vote as a citizen as a member of a ‘democratic’ country, encapsulates the dramatic corruption present in Indian society. Due to aspects of the government being largely corrupt, people living in the darkness are perpetually exploited by higher caste members of society who live in the ‘Light’, and are given no choice into altering their own lives or making their own choices, instead forced to live in poverty and oppression based on the parameters to which they are controlled. The key concept of corruption presented by Adiga causes lower caste populations living in the darkness to experience a lifetime of poverty and hardship.
Balram’s escape from the Rooster Coop is a rarity for those living in ‘The Darkness’ and is not possible for the majority, thus the perpetual cycle of poverty remains. Despite the limitations of class structure, Balram undergoes a transformation that causes him to sacrifice his ethics and personality in order to achieve social mobility, a feat which would ‘infact take a White Tiger’, this being ‘a creature that comes along only once in a generation’. This claim suggests that it is unlikely lower caste members of society would alter their identity to escape the rooster coop, however Balram is an exception. For the majority that remain in the darkness, riddled by poverty and servitude, many desire to escape the darkness but aren’t willing to go through the drastic change that Balram has undergone. While driving in Delhi, Balram notices multitudes of people ‘waiting for a bus, to take them somewhere…’ The seemingly lost and adrift individuals had ‘come from the darkness to Delhi to find some light’. Although Delhi may be considered as the city of light, it is still the darkness to those have no money or political status. Adiga aims to draw the key concept of entrapment associated with class and social caste here. This indicates that despite moving to a location associated with ‘The Light’, those who are born into and live in the darkness are