The White Tiger Summary by Aravind Adiga


The first novel written by Indian author Aravind Adiga was ‘The White Tiger’, which was published in the year 2008. He was born on 23rd October 1974 in Chennai; Madhava Adiga and Usha Adiga were his parents. He completed his secondary school from St. Aloysius College in 1990.

With his family, Aravind migrated to Sydney, Australia and studied in James Ruse Agricultural High School. At Columbia College of Colombia University, New York City, he studied English literature under Simon Schama and graduated as salutatorian in 1997.

He then studied at another renowned college, Magdalen College, Oxford. Aravind was a South Asia correspondent in TIME for three years and after that, he went freelance.

And in this freelance period only he wrote this epic novel ‘The White Tiger’, which won him the 2008 ‘Booker Prize’ and thus became the fourth India-born author to win this prestigious prize.


Story of Balram

The novel revolves around the life of Balram, who narrates his journey from a rickshaw puller to an entrepreneur in a letter which he completed in seven consecutive nights addressing the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao.

Balram Halwai lived with his parents, grandmother, brother, and family in the village of Laxmangarh. In order to pay for his cousin’s dowry, he was forced to leave school during his childhood and he started working in a teashop of Dhanbad with his brother.

An Ardent Learner

He started learning about India’s government and economy through the conversations of the customers. Later he decided to be a driver and started to learn driving. Balram then finds a job to drive for Ashok, the son of one of Laxmangarh’s landlords.

By blackmailing Ram Prasad, the other driver, he became the main driver in quite lesser time and switched to a luxurious car from a small car.

There came a time when he stopped sending money to his family and shifted to New Delhi with Ashok and his wife Pinky Madam, where he became aware of the corruption in the government.

In Delhi, he came across the void between the rich and the poor. He understood that in order to rise above his caste, he needs to become an entrepreneur.

An Accident

One night on the way to home, Pinki Madam took the driver’s seat and since she was drunk, the car hit something but she kept on driving. It was assumed that she has killed a child. Ashok and his family forced Balram to confess that he was driving the car alone.

Ashok’s involvement in bribing the government increased in order to get benefits for the family coal business. Balram then planned to kill Ashok as he thought this to be the only way to escape India’s “Rooster Coop”.

He used this metaphor to describe the oppression of India’s poor. Balram believed that the Rooster Coop of social inequality is kept alive by the traditional Indian families.

Balram Murders Ashok

After killing Ashok with a bottle he stole a large amount of money from him and relocated to Banglore. In order to start his own taxi business, he bribed the police.

When a family lost their son because of one of Balram’s taxi drivers, he had to pay them. Ashok’s family tried killing Balram’s family as revenge. Balram explained here about his actions, he considered his freedom worth the lives of his family.

He is referred to as the “White Tiger”, which in East Asian countries symbolize ‘power’. He overcame the ‘Darkness’ and made his way to the ‘Light’.

This novel describes Balram’s journey to find freedom in India’s modern-day capitalist society. The novel is based on the differences between the two different worlds.