I found this interesting video about the image of poverty that Aravind Adiga presents in The White Tiger. Imagery is something Adiga uses really well to convey the feeling of helplessness that the people of India are suffering. The first sense of this helplessness is Balram’s account of his mother’s funeral:
“This mud was holding her back: this big , swelling mound of black ooze. She was trying to fight the black mud; her toes were flexed and resisting; but the mud was sucking her in” (Adiga 17 and 18).
The image of resistance between Balram’s mother and the darkness of the Ganga river is connected to other images that Balram conveys to the Premier about the helplessness that is consuming the country. Balram relates his feelings about the voting process in India to illustrate the complete lack of control that the poor have even when it is their legal right to have that control. He states that “like eunuchs discussing the Kama Sutra, the voters discuss the elections in Laxangarah” (Adiga 98). And then we get the image of the one man who tries to stand up to the darkness and attempts to cast his vote being beaten by those who are in the position of protection and justice, as well as one of his equals who is perpetuating the darkness he is also living in (Adiga 102).
And then to tie these images up we have that very poignant image of the rooster coop:
Hundreds of pale hens and brightly colored roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages, packed as tightly as worms in a belly, pecking each other and shitting on each other, jostling just for breathing space…on the wooden desk above this coop sits a grinning young butcher, showing off the flesh and organs of recently chopped-up chicken…they see the blood of their brothers lying around them. They know they’re next. Yet they do not rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop” (Adiga 173 and 174).
This image calls to mind the feeling of helplessness that has trapped those in living in poverty in India. They do not fight because they believe it is futile. They keep each other down and in the Darkness, perpetuating the helplessness that oppresses them. Even those who do fight are “sucked into the darkness” anyway. The imagery of the black mud connects across all of these images, showing the overwhelming struggle of those in poverty who have simply given up and succumbed to the fate of the Darkness.
“On How Adiga’s White Tiger Exposes Poverty – YouTube.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.Pitstop4performers, 4 Feb. 2009. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxcY5jMfFKw>.
Adiga, Aravind. The White Tiger. London: Atlantic, 2008. Print.