The White Tiger

Balram halwai as the white tiger


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The White Tiger is largely a story of self-fashioning, as Balram undergoes a transformative journey to construct his own identity. Inspired by his childhood hero, Vijay, who also rose from a humble background to achieve success in the upper echelons of Indian society, Balram dedicates himself to self-improvement, so much so that he is willing to destroy who he once was. He sees identity as fluid and malleable, a fact articulated through the many name changes he employs throughout the story. Ultimately, he even chooses a new identity for himself in imitation of his master, calling himself Ashok Sharma. And yet the novel is full of dramatic irony revealing that Balram cannot fully repudiate the person he once was. He remains full of unresolved guilt and provincial superstitions, reminding us that while identity might be entirely fluid, it is also entirely immovable as well.