The White Tiger
Robert Frost once said, “Freedom lies in being bold.” Boldness involves being driven, risky, and even unethical at times. This notion is especially evident in Aravind Adiga’s novel, The White Tiger, in which Balram Halwaii becomes a successful, high-class businessman. According to the novel, in order to move up in social class and gain freedom, one must take risks, be motivated, and have a sense of immorality. In the beginning of the novel, Balram pleads with his grandmother to pay for driving lessons. Eventually, she agrees but with one and only one very crucial condition: to send every rupee he makes back to his family. Balram, being the immoral and individualistic man that he is, does not send money back to Laxmangarh and, instead, stashes it, using it later for his business. Adiga uses the driving lessons to illustrate Balram’s motivation, endurance, and risk-taking. At first, his driving teacher bashes him saying that anyone who works at a teashop doesn’t have the aggression to be a driver. Not dissuaded, Balram does sweaty, dirty work as a mechanic for taxis and compares it to taking a “dip in the River Ganga”, a reference to Balram symbolically going into the deepest depths of the Darkness, but coming out as something more. Driving represents the ability to go places, a freedom Balram now gains. Similarly, when he becomes Ashok’s driver, Balram is thrilled when he is given a new khaki uniform, a symbol that indicated a step up in social class. Balram also took a huge risk by paying for the driving lessons, as it was a big monetary investment with slim chance of being hired for a job.
Throughout the story, Ashok regularly does shady business deals involving bribing corrupt government officials in charge of the elections in India. While Balram remains loyal to Ashok by choosing not to even speak badly about him in front of the other drivers, the immorality of Ashok rubs off on Balram, making him reconsider. Sooner or later, he takes the...
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