Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger elucidates the marginalized
class which is tangled in sub-human social subsistence by reflecting utter
deficiency, economic exploitation and political subjection. It reflects the
voice of subaltern in which marginal farmers, landless labors, jobless youths,
poor, auto and taxi drivers, servants, prostitutes, beggars, and underprivileged
figure. The protagonist Balram Halwai, intensely suffers from the lack and
deprivation, the resignation and silence, loneliness and alienation, and
subjugation and subordination. Arvind Adiga exemplifies the protagonist growing
from rages to riches through his ambitious motives to do something good for the
underclass people; as a novelist, Adiga is very keen to expose the subaltern
consciousness in the novel. He focuses on 
subaltern perspectives with immense potentiality of the protagonist to speak
through different agencies and power in favor of the subaltern thereby showing
that at times subaltern can go beyond the sever unspeakability.

The novel represents
the detailed accounts of the Indian society—rural as well as urban and its
various facets. Laxamangarh, Gaya, Dhanbad, Delhi and Bangalore are generic,
represent the portrait of India. Poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, caste and
culture conflict, superstition, dowry practice, economic disparity, Zamindari
system, and exploitation of marginal farmers and landless labourers, rise of
Naxalism, corrupt education system, poor health services, tax evading racket,
embittered master-servant relationship, prostitution, weakening family
structure, entrepreneurial success and its fallout etc. constitute the basic
structure of Indian society which largely forms the dark image of India.

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Balaram Halwai , the protagonist of the novel, a young
man was born and brought up in a remote village named Laxmangarh in Bihar who
narrates his story of his life in an epistolary manner to the Chinese Prime
Minister who visits India in an official job . In his letters he unlocks his
heart and gives full description of his life story from childhood to adulthood
and finally as a man of wealthy businessman. Like a true realistic narrator he
introduced his rural village, the rural Bihar, the feudal system of the
village, extreme poverty of the same village, finally the shining India.

Balram speaks as a
rebellious subaltern youth who adopts a criminal method like a typical psychopath
in order to come out of the ‘rooster coop’. He dares to make his identity in
the society of the rich and powerful. Though Balram was himself a subaltern and
very much a part of the subordinate class of the society but still he manages
to break it, though by illegal and brutal means. Throughout the novel, the
contrast between the two different worlds namely ‘dark’ and ‘light’ occur just
like the repeated pattern of black and white stripes on the coat of one of the
rarest and amazing species i.e white tiger. The author penetrates the identity
of Balram in a very satirical tone.

The
White Tiger reflects the issues like Zamandari system, corrupt political
system, exploitation, rise of local insurgency, prostitution, degraded family
structure and poor health services as the weaknesses and maladies of the society.
Balram, the protagonist was labeled as a ‘white tiger’ by his school teacher for
his extraordinary merit and intellect who was a son of a rickshaw puller. But
he was taken out of the school and forced to work in a teashop and afterwards
who had to crush coal and clean the dirty tables of the teashop for his
livelihood. His ambition to be a driver and becoming a well-trained driver
leads the novel to the crisis moment of his life, who in the course of the time
raises his voice and proves that the subaltern can / will speak.

It
is poverty which compels Balram to leave the school and work in a tea stall
washing utensils and doing every kind of menial jobs. In the poverty-stricken
society young kids are given no formal names –simply “Munna: It just means boy”
(TWT: 15); neither the mother nor the father is concerned about the name,
Balram says: “mother’s very ill…she lies in bed and spews blood. She’s got no
time to name is a rickshaw puller…he’s got no time to name me” (TWT: 15).
Vikram Halwai, Balram’s father is hit by poverty and tough manual work. His
body tells the history of his life and sufferings. Balram remarks, ‘A rich
man’s body is like a premium cotton pillow, white and soft and blank. Ours are
different. My father’s spine was a knotted rope, the kind that women use in
village to pull water from wells; the clavicle curved around his neck in high
relief, like a dog’s collar; cuts and nicks and scars, like little whip marks
in his flesh, ran down his chest and waist, reaching down below his hipbones
into his buttocks. The story of a poor man’s life is written on his body, in a
sharp pen’ (TWT: 26-27).

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