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The White Tiger Essay

The significance of the Darkness and the Light in the book The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The contrast between the Darkness and the Light is often mentioned in this book. The darkness is described as the poor and miserable areas of the rural India, while the light is the opposite. In the light there are often flourishing cities crawling with entrepreneurs and hard workers. In The White Tiger one gets to follow Balram Halwai’s journey from the darkness to the light.

Needless to say, India is far from the American dream. Once you are born into a certain type of caste you will probably spend your entire life with a fixed position in the social hierarchy. When Balram refers to the darkness he often mentions the poverty, ignorance and most importantly, the lack of education.

“Me, and thousands of others in this country like me, are half-baked, because we were never allowed to complete our schooling” -Balram Halwai

Primarily, what separates the light from the darkness is the level of education. Many people from the darkness end up being servants or drivers for their masters from the light. Balram describes the other servants as ignorant and unengaged. Nonetheless, what separates Balram from the others is his willingness to learn. While driving, he picks up a lot of interesting information by eavesdropping on his master, Mr. Ashok. With knowledge comes the ability to question and increased ambition, I think his increased knowledge is what inspires Balram to take the leap from the darkness to the light. Unlike the other servants he does not feel inferior to his master.

“… The tale of how I was corrupted from a sweet, innocent village fool into a citified fellow full of debauchery, depravity and wickedness.”- Balram Halwai

In the big cities the traditional moral values do not apply anymore, instead money talks. Corruption is widespread, ranging all the way from the bottom to the top in the social hierarchy. Most cities in the light are clashes of western and indian cultures. This means that materialism has gained the upper hand in these parts. Over time, Balram slowly transforms from the innocent village boy to the more egocentric city denizen. This is clearly shown when he abruptly stops sending payments to his family and spends this money rather on alcohol and debauchery.

“ I was looking for the key for years/ but the door was always open”- Iqbal, Pakistani poet

I think this quotation is one of the most thematic for the book. Balram was discontent with his present situation and wanted a way out of the rooster coop that he was trapped inside. He eventually realized that the change originated within him, the door out of the coop was always open. All it took was someone who stood out from the rest/ a white tiger to break out of the coop, which took the form of killing his own master. However, by doing so, Balram fulfilled his journey from the darkness to the light and thus becoming his own master.

Finally, the darkness and the light divide India in two very different categories, extreme poverty versus wealth, or “small bellies and big bellies” as Balram puts it. The contrast between the darkness and the light is so big that in the same country people can live in mansions with luxury cars and multiple servants while others can only afford a water buffalo in order to get nutrition to survive. Albeit, India has at this time a growing middle class and a developing economy it still has its social problems. Just look at what’s going on right now, women and children get raped and left to die whithout judicial priority. Although I think these problems are hard to deal with since moral values are hard to change, but by solving problems like these and the educational gaps that are brought forth in “The White Tiger”, India can take a step towards a more equal society and hopefully erase the world that Balram refers to as “the Darkness”.


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