Big Bellies vs. Small Bellies

It goes without saying that there are a lot of pretty twisted things going on in this book. One which struck me as funny yet disturbing is the advertisement posted below.

On the seat of his rickshaw was a white advertising sticker:

IS EXCESS WEIGHT A PROBLEM FOR YOU?

CALL JIMMY SINGH AT METRO GYM: 9811799289

(Adiga 188)

Because this was on a rickshaw being pulled by a lower caste individual, it shows an interesting contrast between the upper castes and the lower castes. Just the fact that the advertisement is on the side of a rickshaw, which serves as a job/source of exercise for the rickshaw driver.  This is interesting because the only people who can really afford to ride in a rickshaw are individuals from the higher castes–not necessarily the wealthiest individuals because they are lucky enough to have cars and drivers, but some of the upper castes nonetheless.

Balram spends a little bit of time early in the book telling the Premier about the caste system in India and how it has been reduced from many castes to two main castes: the big bellies and the small bellies. The rickshaw puller, in this example, is a good example of the small bellies. There is a lot more to this image than meets the eye because the lower caste individual is literally pulling the weight around of the higher caste person. The do need to lose the excess weight and rebel against the landlords and other oppressive upper-caste individuals. That is one thing that I think Balram is trying to express to his audience, and he does it well. However, at the same time he shows us what happens if one does choose to rebel (the man who votes, or rather attempts to vote). Showing both sides of the spectrum is an excellent device with Adiga has Balram use to show Wen Jiabao exactly what is going on in India–the truth which cannot be found on the tourism pamphlets.

Works Cited

Adiga, Aravind. The White Tiger: A Novel. New York: Free, 2008. Print.
Two tourists on a rickshaw. Digital image. Upper Playground. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. <http://www.upperplayground.com/tag/rickshaw&gt;.
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