The White Tiger

The caste system

A key component in The White Tiger is the discussion of the India caste system. The caste system in India is a social system that divides the Indian population into higher and lower social classes. Although said to be disappearing in urban India, the caste system still remains in rural India. A person is born into a caste, and the caste one belongs in determines his or her occupation. Balram gives his own breakdown of the caste system in India, describing that it was a "...clean, well-kept orderly zoo". But no longer - because that caste system broke down, and the powerful with the big bellies took over anything they could - and now there are only 2 castes in India - the haves and the have nots. Balram was born into the Halwai caste, meaning "sweet-maker", and was the son of a rickshaw puller - not a sweet-maker, because someone with power stole his destiny of being a sweet-maker from him.

Adiga brings awareness to the corrupt India caste system by having Balram work the country’s system to get what he wants and to become an entrepreneur by any means necessary, including murdering his boss. Balram educates the Chinese Premier throughout his letters about the corruption and immoral ways of India’s caste system and its economic gap. Although it may seem that Balram’s position in society will forever remain the same, he manages to go from a sweet shop worker, to a personal driver for a rich man, and finally to an owner of a small business.

Balram’s quest to becoming an entrepreneur shows the oppression of the lower caste system and the superiority of the upper caste. He tells the story of how India still has a caste system and political and economic corruption is still present. Balram shows the country of India in which a person high on the caste system can bribe people such as police officers with money to cover up murders, sabotage political opponents by rigging votes and money, and have privileges such as shopping in a mall specifically for those of high social and economic importance. He also shows the side of India in which those who are born into poverty and low castes may forever remain there and so will their children. Balram is a rare exception, as he experiences both sides of the caste system and manages to move up the social ladder.

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