The White Tiger

Equal Parts Admiration and Disgust: Balram Halwai as an Atypical Protagonist 12th Grade

Balram Halwai is a protagonist in Aravind Adiga’s epistolary novel The White Tiger, in the sense that he is the primary driver of events in the story, and due to the fact that he faces great challenge and adversity, and overcomes the difficulties in his path. However, it is that nature in which he conquers his challenges that Balram diverges from the typical role of a protagonist; in that he climbs society through immorality and selfishness, by using others as rungs; this is in stark contrast to a typical protagonist of courage and honesty. Therefore, it is due to Balram’s “conquering” of India’s societal restrictions that allows the reader to experience admiration, yet it is due to the nature of his ascent that readers can, and do, experience disgust.

Protagonists are generally honourable, selfless characters who are the main focuses in stories, and generally are the primary forces of progression in the narrative. Balram, from birth, has seemingly insurmountable social restrictions (confining him to be a sweet-maker for his life) placed upon him in the form of caste; a pre-determined and pre-defined role within society based upon one’s birth. Although, unlike the hundreds of millions of other Indians in his position, Balram...

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