The White Tiger

The White Tiger Summary and Analysis of Chapter 8: The Seventh Night


Balram informs the Premier that this will be his final letter, and that he will explain how he transformed himself from a fugitive into a successful entrepreneur.

After returning for Dharam, Balram traveled to Bangalore via an indirect route, frequently switching trains to avoid being tracked. Once, at a tea shop in Hyderabad, Balram saw the police poster with his image, but he was able to talk freely about it with another patron. Since the photo could be of “half the men in India,” he was never identified through it (252).

Balram admits that it took several weeks for his nerves to calm after he arrived in Bangalore. He was eager to experience life in in the South, which is culturally distinct from the North. The cuisine and language there were different, and the poor people in Bangalore drank coffee rather than tea. Further, Bangalore is full of outsiders, which made it easier for Balram to blend in.

To learn how to best succeed there, Balram listened to the “voice” of the city, eavesdropping on street conversations (255). Through this process, he determined that he should get involved in the outsourcing business. Learning that call center workers trade shifts at 3 am, which made transportation difficult and dangerous, he decided to start a taxi service to transport these workers. As a first step, he contacted a Toyota dealership to rent a fleet of cars.

Unfortunately, when he offered his driving services to the outsourcing companies, he learned that they already had taxi companies on hire for their workers. Using a lesson he learned during his time in Delhi, Balram then bribed the police to shut down the other taxi services by raiding their offices and penalizing them for hiring unlicensed drivers. As a result, his company - White Tiger Drivers - became successful amongst the outsourcing company employees, eventually using 16 drivers and 26 vehicles to meet demand.

Now, Balram is worth 15 times the amount of money he stole from Mr. Ashok. Furthermore, he has adopted a new name: Ashok Sharma, taken from his former employer. He treats his employees professionally, not like servants, but does not get to know them personally. He enjoys the new lifestyle of a man of wealth, often consorting with prostitutes in five-star hotels.

Balram then discusses the future of India. He does foresee an Indian revolution, but believes that the Indian people err in expecting it to come from elsewhere. Instead, he argues to the Premier, it must come from within themselves. He suggests that the age of the white man is drawing to a close, and that the “yellow men and brown men” will rule the world within twenty years time (262).

Next, Balram explains why he had to abandon his narrative so suddenly on the fifth night. One of his drivers, Mohammad Asif, had accidentally hit a boy riding on his bicycle. When Balram received the call, he abandoned his letter to the Premier, told Mohammad to call the police, and rushed to the scene.

There, Balram met a police officer whom he knew, as well as the dead boy’s brother, who was screaming at Mohammad. Balram secured the driver's release, explaining to the brother that he would take responsibility as the vehicle's owner. At the police station, however, Balram's allies - including the assistant commissioner - helped Balram cover up the crime, assuring him they would silence any story the victim's brother tried to tell through the media.

Later, Balram visited the victim’s family to apologize, offering as restitution 25,000 rupees and a job for the surviving son.

Balram then reflects upon his family's fate. He is uncertain who, if anyone, might have survived the Stork's vengeance, and adds that survivors would have been banished by the village anyway, for compromising its reputation. Considering that they would then have to live as beggars in a city, Balram does not necessarily hope they survived. He admits that the Premier might view him as a monster for sacrificing his family, but he maintains that the only difference between him and anyone else in the Darkness is that he has woken up, while the rest are still sleeping.

Dharam is doing well, receiving a good education at an English school in Bangalore. He has more or less deduced what happened, and sometimes uses it to subtly blackmail Balram into giving him freedom.

Balram also admits that he misses Mr. Ashok, and that the man did not deserve his fate. He wishes sometimes that he had killed the Mongoose instead.

Balram concludes his final letter by speculating about Bangalore's future, a future he feels he is helping to create. He reasons that everyone with power has killed someone on their way to the top. He plans to soon enough sell his “start-up” to move into another line of business, possibly real estate (274). Eventually, he hopes to open a school for poor children in Bangalore, to train the next generation of White Tigers.

While he is frequently convinced that he has successfully broken out of the Rooster Coop, he is also frequently aware that he could still be caught. Regardless, he refuses to regret having killed his master.


Balram’s transformation, which has been unfolding over the course of the entire novel, is now complete. The preternatural connection that existed between Ashok and Balram, which involved their fluid and shifting identities, has now reached its logical conclusion: Balram has made himself into Mr. Ashok (or a form of him). He even uses a form of the man's name. Only by murdering Ashok and repudiating his former self could Balram transcend the Rooster Coop and earn a place in the Light.

Balram’s journey of self-fashioning has thus drawn to a close. He powerfully demonstrates the possibility of forging one’s own identity as he transforms himself from a poor village dweller into a successful entrepreneur. However, his success has required him to commit to an entirely alternate sense of morality. Though he (and the reader) can certainly attribute this necessity to the limitations enforced by society, it is also true that he has had to take responsibility for those decisions. In taking on his final name, Ashok Sharma, Balram commits fully to this alternate system of morality - he has become someone else.

A key part of this transformation connects Balram to the novel's social themes, as he embraces the corruption he has viciously resented for so long. The only way to become successful in a society paralyzed by corruption, it seems, is to enter into the same questionable practices that reinforce the limitations of the Rooster Coop. Balram's masterful use of the police corruption show not only that he has changed, but also that he has paid close attention to the way the world works.

However, there are indications that Balram is striving to set himself apart from men like the Stork. He treats his employees fairly and demonstrates a strong conscience, as indicated by his compassionate treatment of the dead boy’s family. Ultimately, then, the novel’s conclusion challenges the reader to consider the grey areas of Balram's morality. In what circumstances can murder be justified? Must an individual be willing to sell others out in a world that otherwise prohibits success? Balram’s charisma and humor goes a long way towards humanizing his behavior, but the most compelling argument is his success. That he has succeeded suggests that he might unfortunately be correct, that a poor man can never rise without violently extricating himself from the moralities, laws and expectations that otherwise limit him. He certainly believes he has discovered a new way of life; not only does he see Dharam as a pupil, but he dreams of opening a school that can spread his philosophy on an even greater scale.

In considering the future of Bangalore and humanity as a whole, Balram brings his narrative full-circle to some of his opening remarks to the Premier. He believes that the era of the yellow man and brown man is approaching. In other words, he is attempting to tell a larger story through his own tale. He hopes his story foresees a future in which the larger global strictures of the Rooster Coop might be destroyed. Now more than ever, his unusual decision to address his entire tale to Wen Jiabao makes sense, as a seeming overture to a possible future Sino-Indian alliance in a globalized society. Ultimately, then, Balram ends his tale as a conflux of fascinating personalities: a charmer, a psychopath, a businessman, and maybe even something of a seer.