Poor-Rich Divide - Journal of Alternative Perspectives in...

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Unformatted text preview: Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences ( 2009) Vol 1, No 2, 229-245 229 Poor-Rich Divide in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger A.J. Sebastian, Ph.D., Nagaland University (Kohima, India) Abstract: Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, which was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2008, is singular in its fictionalized portrayal of the relationship between Balram Halwai and his master Mr Ashok. The story exposes the poor-rich divide that surrounds India in the backdrop of economic prosperity, in the wake of the IT revolution. As Michael Portillo commented the novel “shocked and entertained in equal measure” (Portillo, 2008). Written in the epistolary form, the novel is a seven-part letter to the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, from Balram alias Ashok Sharma, a self-styled ‘Thinking Man / And an entrepreneur’ (TWT, 2008, p. 3). Balram the killer, metamorphoses into his master’s replica after his heinous crime. By crime and cunning, in the name of the social injustice due to existing rich-poor divide in India, Balram rules his entrepreneurial world. This paper attempts to trace the great poor-rich divide manifested through The White Tiger, having dangerous consequences, if unresolved. Speaking on the servant-master relationship, Adiga says: The servant-master system implies two things: One is that the servants are far poorer than the rich—a servant has no possibility of ever catching up to the master. And secondly, he has access to the master— the master’s money, the master’s physical person. Yet crime rates in India are very low. Even though the middle class—who often have three or four servants— are paranoid about crime, the reality is a master getting killed by his servant is rare…. You need two things [for crime to occur]—a divide and a conscious ideology of resentment. We don’t have resentment in India. The poor just assume that the rich are a fact of life…. But I think we’re seeing what I believe is a class- based resentment for the first time. (Sawhney, 2008). ISSN (PRINT): 1944-1088 Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences ISSN (ELECTRONIC): 1944-1096 http://www.japss.org Poor-Rich Divide in Aravind Adiga’s “The White Tiger” 230 Balram Halwai, is presented as a modern Indian hero, in the midst of the economic prosperity of India in the recent past. His climbing the ladder of success is by murdering Mr. Ashok, his employer, and stealing his bag full of money – Rs.700,000/-, based on a philosophy of revenge, ambition and corruption. Balram is representative of the poor in India yearning for their ‘tomorrow’. His story is a parable of the new India with a distinctly macabre twist. He is not only an entrepreneur but also a roguish criminal remarkably capable of self-justification. The background against which he operates is one of corruption, inequality and poverty (Kapur, 2008). ...
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