An Analysis of Morality and Corruption in "The White Tiger"

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About this sample


Words: 609 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Updated: 29 March, 2024

Words: 609|Page: 1|4 min read

Updated: 29 March, 2024

In Aravind Adiga’s "The White Tiger," the dichotomy between light and darkness, morality and corruption, is intricately explored against the backdrop of India’s socioeconomic landscape. Through the lens of the protagonist Balram Halwai, the novel navigates the moral complexities and systemic corruption that define contemporary Indian society. Adiga skillfully juxtaposes the contrasting worlds of privilege and poverty, illustrating how morality becomes a luxury for the oppressed while corruption thrives among the powerful.

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The title of the novel itself, "The White Tiger," serves as a metaphor for the rare individual who transcends societal constraints and achieves success through cunning and ruthlessness. Balram, the eponymous white tiger, symbolizes the marginalized individual who claws their way out of darkness into the light of prosperity, albeit through morally dubious means.

Adiga paints a bleak picture of rural India, portraying the lives of those trapped in the "Darkness" of poverty and oppression. Through Balram’s narrative, we witness the hopelessness and despair that pervade villages like Laxmangarh, where survival often necessitates compromise of integrity. The metaphor of the Ganga, with its rich, dark mud choking the life out of surrounding vegetation, serves as a powerful symbol of the suffocating grip of poverty on the aspirations of the downtrodden.

Within the darkness of Laxmangarh, morality becomes a luxury that few can afford. Balram himself reflects on the lack of a proper name given to him by his parents, a stark reminder of the dehumanizing effects of poverty. The pervasive corruption at every level of society further reinforces the notion that survival in such environments demands a willingness to bend or break moral principles.

Conversely, Adiga exposes the rot at the core of India’s economic growth, highlighting the endemic corruption that underpins the success of the privileged few. The characters of Ashok and Pinky Madam, Balram’s employers, represent the morally bankrupt elite who exploit the system for personal gain. Their wealth and influence shield them from the consequences of their actions, allowing them to perpetuate a cycle of corruption and exploitation.

Adiga’s portrayal of India’s parliamentary democracy as a farce, where votes can be bought and sold like commodities, further underscores the pervasive nature of corruption. Balram’s cynical observation that one must be both "straight and crooked" to succeed in such a system exposes the moral bankruptcy at the heart of Indian politics.

Yet amidst the darkness of corruption, Adiga offers glimpses of light in the form of characters like Ashok, whom Balram dubs "The Lamb." Ashok’s genuine concern for the welfare of his servants and his wife’s disdain for the inequalities of Indian society suggest that morality is not entirely extinct among the privileged class. However, their moral compass is often compromised by their desire to maintain their social status and economic privilege.

Balram’s own journey from darkness to light mirrors India’s struggle to reconcile its moral conscience with its pursuit of economic progress. As he claws his way out of poverty through deceit and treachery, Balram grapples with his own morality, ultimately embracing the ruthless pragmatism necessary for survival in a corrupt society.

Through "The White Tiger," Adiga offers a searing critique of India’s social and political landscape, exposing the moral decay that threatens to undermine its progress. The novel serves as a cautionary tale against the corrosive effects of corruption and inequality, urging readers to confront the uncomfortable truths that lie beneath the surface of India’s economic success.

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"The White Tiger" is a powerful exploration of morality and corruption in contemporary India, shedding light on the moral compromises and systemic injustices that define its society. Adiga’s compelling narrative and vivid characters offer a poignant commentary on the human cost of India’s economic growth, challenging readers to confront the uncomfortable realities of modern-day India.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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An Analysis of Morality and Corruption in “The White Tiger”. (2018, May 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“An Analysis of Morality and Corruption in “The White Tiger”.” GradesFixer, 20 May 2018,
An Analysis of Morality and Corruption in “The White Tiger”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
An Analysis of Morality and Corruption in “The White Tiger” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 May 20 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from:
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