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The White Tiger
Transcript of The White Tiger
The White Tiger
Elements of the text
Modern global context:
Second most populous country in the world after China (consider significance of letters to Chinese leader Wen Jiabao). These two countries are new economic superpowers in the 'Asian Century'.
The pace of economic growth is reflected in the novel's depiction of pollution, smoke, smog, cement dust (see p.317) and the ambiguous values of aggressively pursued corporate capitalism.
There are many contrasts and contradictions in New India
social mobility/caste system
First novel by Adiga, an Indian writer educated in India, Australia, the US and UK.
Winner of the Man Booker Prize
The novel provides a sometimes funny and often dark view of India’s class struggle in a globalized world. It is told through the letters written by Balram Halwai,and details his journey to Delhi, where he works as a chauffeur to a rich landlord, and then to Bangalore, where he goes after killing his employer.
Big ideas of the text:
The novel examines issues of religion, caste, loyalty, corruption and poverty in India.
It is also concerned with transformation, power, control and self-determination in a time of Indian ascension on the global stage and the intersection of third world elements with those of an emerging economic superpower.
Background: colonial India
Is this a post-colonial novel?
Poverty and Wealth
Roads and Traffic
Collectivism v Individualism
Language and Style
Imagery and symbolism
Issues and Themes
What skills must you demonstrate
This outcome requires a close study of the chosen text. Students should be prepared to:
Read the text multiple times.
Take detailed reading notes while reading.
Organise reading notes carefully.
Select quotes that illuminate key elements of the text.
Write practice essays and refine written expression and editing skills.
Consider creative ways into the text that utilise voice and language to reflect on key ideas
• explain and analyse
– how the features of a range of texts create meaning and how they influence interpretation
– the ways readers are invited to respond to texts
• identify and analyse the explicit and implied ideas and values in texts
• examine different interpretations of texts and consider how these resonate with or challenge their own interpretations
• synthesise ideas and interpretations to develop an interpretation of their own
• apply the conventions of oral presentation in the delivery of spoken texts
• apply the conventions of discussion
• use textual evidence appropriately to justify analytical responses
• plan analytical interpretations of texts
• develop, test and clarify ideas using discussion and writing
• plan creative responses to texts by
– analysing the text, considering opportunities to explore meaning
– selecting key moments, characters, themes worthy of exploration
– taking account of the purpose, context, audience in determining the selected content and approach
• develop and sustain voice and style in creative responses
• transform and adapt language and literary devices to generate particular responses, with consideration of the
• explain and justify decisions made in the writing process and how these demonstrate understanding of the text
• draft, review, edit and refine creative and analytical interpretations to texts for expressiveness, accuracy, fluency and coherence, and for stylistic effect
• apply the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English accurately and appropriately.
an understanding of the world of a text and the explicit and implied values it expresses
• the ways authors
– create meaning and build the world of the text
– respond to different contexts, audiences and purposes
• the ways in which readers’ interpretations of texts differ and why
• the features of a range of literary and other written, spoken and multimodal texts
• the conventions of oral presentations and discussion
• the features of analytical interpretations of literary and other texts: structure, conventions and language, including relevant metalanguage
• the features of creative interpretations (written, spoken and multimodal), including structure, conventions and language, and how they create voice and style
• the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English.
Outcome 1 Part A
On completion of this unit the student should be able to produce an analytical interpretation of a selected text (Burial Rites) and a creative response and written statement for a different selected text (The White Tiger)
To achieve this outcome the student will draw on key knowledge and key skills outlined in Area of Study 1.
This outcome will contribute 30 marks out of 100 for Unit 3 and will be assessed in a written SAC conducted in a double period.
Marks will be moderated across the year level.
Students will also be required to undertake a work requirement task to a satisfactory standard (this will be an analytical response
Over the last few millennia, the Indian subcontinent has been variously the seat of empires and a target for conquest for other empires.
Due to India's value in terms of trade and resources, the British Empire began to have a foothold in India from the second half of the 18th century.
Over the next 100 years, British control expanded; the British were able to leverage enmity between religious and social groups, and between different powerful families.
After 1857, Britain's colonial government strengthened and expanded its infrastructure via the court system and legal procedures.
Indian Independence movements began to grow in the early 20th century, culminating in partition in 1947 after Britain had been weakened by WWII.
It is a secular and material country that is forging ahead economically.
It has a population of 1.2 billion (second largest in the world)
India is now one of the fastest-growing major economies. (10th largest GDP)
India is considered a newly industrialised country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, inadequate public healthcare, and terrorism.
The long shadow of the British Empire is still evident in India in the bureaucracy, infrastructure and education systems among others.
India also retains the British Empire's demarcation between the leaders and peasants, powerful and powerless, and the gap between the richest and poorest.
Adiga's India is, however, in may ways a world away from the British Empire. Adiga does not appear to be concerned with addressing the legacy and impact of colonialism in India, however his narrative, has post-colonial elements in that he:
rejects a single view of Indian experience, identity and place
gives a voice to a character who is one of the poor, powerless and marginal.
Adiga does this in such a way that he presents New India as a complex and dynamic place that cannot easily be defined or categorised.
Rapid industrialisation has resulted in a growing class of the enormously wealthy.
Luxury Shopping Mall
Village life in Bihar
Right of way can depend on type and cost of vehicle, and the colour and economic status of the passengers (consider the child who is hit by Pinky Madam in the text).
Drivers are often identifiable by their clothes. Indians and Pakistanis are also commonly drivers in the Middle East as well as used for other cheap and disposable labour.
Indian House Drivers
Navigating the roads in the holy city Varanasi (2011)
India is a secular republic, however the vast majority of Indians engage in religious rituals on a daily basis. (Balram represents himself as a superstitious and pious observer to manipulate his employer)
According to the 2001 census, 80.5% of the population of India practice Hinduism, Islam (13.4%), Christianity (2.3%), Sikhism (1.9%), Buddhism (0.8%) and Jainism (0.4%)
Some separation of Hindu and Muslim populations occured during partition, with mass migration between India and Pakistan.
The Muslim population in India is the third largest in the world and the largest of a non-Muslim nation.
Underlying tensions between Hindus and Muslims are represented in the novel (p.107-110 Balram exploits his knowledge Ram Persad's religion)
An individualistic society depends upon the values of freedom and independence, while a collectivistic society depends on group harmony and consensus. India is generally considered collectivist.
The narrative is in epistolary form, and therefore in first person.
It is told over seven consecutive nights with Balram dictating in the empty offices of his limousine business.
The purported audience is the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who is soon to visit Bangalore.
The narrative is generally linear, however Balram does offer clues and foreshadows what is to come.
Also known as Munna and the White Tiger
A complex yet straightforward character
Balram is both elusive yet completely open in his disclosures to Wen Jaibao.
He is is some ways completely accepting of his life and standing which is dictated to by his caste, family and society, however he is also prepared to manipulate and question.
Questions to consider:
Is he driven by instinct or injustice?
Is a hero, anti-hero, or something else entirely?
Is he a moral, immoral or amoral? What evidence is there for each?
Mr Ashok and Pinky Madam
Recently returned to India from New York
Represent the straddling of old and new, East and West, traditional business models and US capitalism.
Embody western sensibility and modernity.
Questions to consider:
Is Mr Ashok a benevolent master or simply nostalgic for India?
Does Pinky Madam exhibit this sentimentality?
What redeeming characteristics do these two have, if any?
The stork, the Mongoose, the Buffalo, the Warthog
The menagerie of landlords described according to their physical features and attitudes.
They are shown to be complicit in the cycle of poverty.
The Stork and Mongoose shown in most detail, bribing politicians, avoiding tax, exploiting cheap labour, indulging in cruel treatment of Balram and other humiliation of the servants.
The Mongoose in particular is a tool used by Adiga to explore the corruption and primitive feudal attitudes of the younger generation of rich Indian landowner classes who pay lip service to ideas of unity and democracy.
The novel is realistic in style, avoiding literary language or devices like fantasy or magic realism.
The narrative voice has been described as being more blunt and earthy. Balram's tone is generally matter-of-fact and unemotional. His vocabulary is harsh and unsentimental (see his mother's funeral) and sometimes vulgar.
Balram's language is also informal, even though he is addressing a world leader.
His language can be considered to represent that division between poverty and privilege.
The River Ganga: religious significance, sucking mud, life/death, pollution/purity death, rebirth and transformation (Balram, India)
On the banks of the Ganges
People praying, washing and bathing in the Ganges
Ghats of the River Ganga
Fecal matter in the Ganges, up to 100,000,000 parts per 100ml, also partly cremated body parts, industrial waste etc.
Mud and Ooze
Servant and Master
Betrayal (who betrays and who is betrayed, or are all complicit in a tenuous social contract?)
Darkness and Light
Tradition v modern
Rural v urban (Bihar v Dehli)
poverty v wealth and power
caste restrictions v entrepreneurship
The rise of New India
Prepared by Caroline O'Donnell, Horsham College 2015