White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

January 18, 2010
By Anonymous

Two Ways to Escape Poverty

White Tiger ends with Balram saying everyone must have killed someone at some point in his or her lives to reach the top. The movie Slumdog Millionaire comes from a very similar location as White Tiger. The morals portrayed in this movie state that if you are honest and rise above the corruption around you, then you would make it out of the slums. This contradicts Balram’s view on how to make it out of the darkness in many ways. Even though Slumdog Millionaire’s main character, Jamal, and Balram may have different morals, they are both searching for social justice.

As a driver, there are many possible ways for Balram to make extra money. He could fairly just drive more or do extra work without being asked. This take would follow Slumdog Millionaire’s approach. However, the extra money Balram receives from Mr. Ashok doesn’t satisfy him. The dissatisfaction prompts Balram’s beliefs to change over time. He ultimately believes that whoever is trickier and more cunning will be more successful in the end. Balram says everyone has got to do whatever can get him or her to the top. In this case, Balram kills Ashok in order to get his big, red bag full of money. Mr. Ashok’s money was going to politicians to be used for the people. Because of this, Balram got the impression that it would be morally acceptable to take the money for him since it was supposed to go towards him anyway.
Balram is always nervous that others will think he is weak or vulnerable. To him, it’s all about proving yourself. Slumdog Millionaire shows the opposite with a character like Jamal that believes anything is achievable through honesty. Jamal realizes that if it is his destiny, he will be able to overcome his past and become something better. Balram would completely argue this. Through honesty, he got nowhere. When he was an honest driver it only strengthened his relationship with Ashok. However this relationship ended up having no significance to either person. The only way Balram moved his way up was through scheming and killing, not through the relationships he formed, which actually held him back.
Both stories show that people in poverty do not choose their misfortune although society usually treats them that way. Balram and Jamal had unrealized potential and were looked over because of their social status. Still, they managed to make it into the “light.” Balram has darkened his soul by becoming a killer, but he also has succeeded in everyman’s struggle because of it.

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