The White Tiger

The White Tiger Nietzche’s “Ubermensch” In Literature

Balram Halwai can be understood in the literary tradition of the Nietzchean “ubermensch,” and as such, it is useful to understand the nature of that trope.

Nietzche’s concept of the “ubermensch,” usually translated as “super-man” or “over-man,” is a central concept of Nietzchean philosophy, most significantly discussed in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-85). Nietzche’s ubermensch is a man of superior potential who has thrown off the shackles of the traditional Christian “herd morality,” instead constructing his own moral system. Having moved beyond the confines of moral thought, the ubermensch furthers the interests of humanity by pursuing the realization of his own singular moral code, and hence acting as a model for those who follow.

Nietzche’s superman has figured prominently in literature. The most famous iteration of the “ubermensch” in literature is found within Fyodor Dostoevky’s Crime and Punishment. Rodion Raskolnikov, aspiring to be an “extraordinary” man unbound by ordinary morality, commits an act of murder.

Like Raskolnikov, Balram’s actions in The White Tiger can be understood within the framework of the Nietzchean ubermensch. Balram considers himself to be superior to his fellow men, an extraordinary and rare “White Tiger” in the jungle of the Darkness. He believes his fate to be separate from others of his background, since he has awoken while they remain sleeping. Accordingly, he breaks free of the system of morality that binds the other people of the Darkness to the Rooster Coop. He constructs his own system of morals, in which theft, murder, and a deadly betrayal of his family become acceptable and justified actions. Finally, he rationalizes his choices by believing that he will serve as a model to those who follow.