The White Tiger Summary & Study Guide

Aravind Adiga
This Study Guide consists of approximately 55 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The White Tiger.
This section contains 595 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The White Tiger Summary & Study Guide Description

The White Tiger Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

The novel starts as Balram starts a letter to a Chinese politician about to visit India. In the letter, written from an apartment in Bangalore lit by a large (and somewhat unexpected) chandelier, Balram describes himself as India’s most successful entrepreneur, and begins to tell the story of how he got that way. As the novel continues, narration returns to this setting, framing Balram’s story of his past with brief references to his successful present.

Balram begins the journey into his past by describing his early life in the village of Laxmangarh, a small community pervaded by poverty. His family is dominated by a forceful grandmother, fed as the result of the income generated by a hard-working (but badly paid) father, and trapped in their way of life by India’s centuries-old caste system, which defines individuals by the jobs done by ancient ancestors. Very early on, however, Balram comes to realize and/or believe that the life for which he seems to be destined is not the life he wants and/or needs to live, and slowly, carefully, starts working his way towards greater wealth and success. He doesn’t really know how he’s going to get there: he only knows that he has to, and trusts that the way forward will ultimately be revealed to him.

From Laxmangarh, Balram moves on to Dhanbad, where he manages to get himself some training as a driver and then a job as assistant chauffeur in a wealthy family of industrialist businessman headed by a man referred to only as The Stork. The Stork’s two sons are very different men: the elder, Mukesh Sir, is smart, domineering, and homely; the younger, Mr. Ashok, is less intelligent, more soft-hearted, and physically very attractive. Mr. Ashok is married to the similarly attractive Pinky Madam. As his time with the family lengthens, and by deliberate and carefully calculated action, Balram makes himself indispensable, eventually making himself head chauffeur and accompanying Mr. Ashok and Pinky Madam on their move into Delhi.

Balram watches, listens, and learns as Mr. Ashok and Mukesh Sir become more and more involved in the financial and social manipulations of the entwined business and political systems in Delhi; observes and absorbs as Mr. Ashok struggles to keep his marriage together; and finds himself caught in a typical Indian servant’s trap when circumstances force him to take the blame for a crime he didn’t commit. The consequences of his actions in this case don’t come to pass: he avoids prison, but his life is disturbed anyway when Pinky Madam, who has long been frustrated with her husband, returns to her home in America.

This sends Mr. Ashok into an emotional spiral, which results in him becoming increasingly dependent on Balram who, in turn, becomes increasingly resentful. That resentment builds and intensifies until Balram is driven to kill Mr. Ashok, steal a large sum of money intended to be used as bribes for corrupt politicians, and leave the city.

Balram eventually ends up in Bangalore, where he sets up a business for himself (using the money stolen from Mr. Ashok as seed money) and, finally, becoming the successful, independent, wealthy businessman he has always dreamed of being. He is haunted by a quiet sense of guilt, but presents himself as ultimately free of remorse for what he did: he concludes his story with a celebration, in narration, of the fact that he has been, even if only for a short period of time, a servant to no one.

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This section contains 595 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The White Tiger Study Guide
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