‘Hundreds of pale hens and brightly coloured roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages, packed as tightly as worms in a belly, pecking each other and shitting in each other, jostling just for breathing space; the whole cage giving off a horrible stench –the stench of terrified, feathered flesh.’ (p.167; The Fifth Night)
The rooster coop symbolizes the cage that Balram lives in. He’s dependant on his master who decides about what to do, where to go. Besides the conditions the servants are accommodated resemble to a rooster coop.
‘(…)It’s because 99.9 per cent of us are caught in the Rooster Coop just like those poor guys in the poultry market.’ (p.168)
The 99.9 per cent of ‘us’ means the majority of the society which consists of servants. Balram is one of them and he’s caught in it as well. The small rest of is the good earning society.
‘What if one day, for instance, a driver took his employers money and ran? What would his life be like?’ (p.169) ‘I will answer both for you(…). It would, in fact, take a White Tiger.’ (p.170)
Balram thinks for the first time in a not-loyal way about his master. He begins to imagine which possibilities he seems to have if he hazards a crime. Up to this point he considers the thought again and again. His thinking changes from total loyalty towards his master to thinking in an egoistic way. The ‘White Tiger’ is in this novel symbol for someone who can manage to escape from the system in a way. White Tigers are a rarity like people from the Darkness who get into the Light. Balram calls himself like this as he reached this aim.
‘(…)(The) tale of how I was corrupted from a sweet, innocent village fool into a citified fellow full of debauchery, depravity, and wickedness.’ (p.189)
This is the conclusion of Balrams process of change from village boy to a social entrepreneur connected with his self-disdain for what he’s become.
‘If you save from today, you’ll make enough money to buy a small home in some slum.’(p.193)
A servant tells what the aim in life is. Here the great difference between the poor and the rich. Rich people deal with lots of money, the more money you have the more people you can corrupt and on the other hand the poor for whom an own home in the slum is something of worth.
‘A whore? That’s for people like me, sir.’ (p.206)
Balram can’t imagine his master who is a kind of god to him does something decisive for the scum like him.
‘A rooster was escaping from the coop! A hand was thrust out – I was picked up by the neck and shoved back into the coop.’(p.234)
Metaphor for how difficult it is for Balram to escape. Even though no one really catches him, he feels like that as he feels to have responsibility towards his master.
‘But your heart has become even blacker than that, Munna.’(p.249)
This is how Balram himself thinks about his change of personality and character. He is conscious of that. Still he calls himself ‘Munna’ as he sticks to his old self.
‘He (the white tiger in the zoo) was hypnotizing himself by walking like this - that was the way he could tolerate this cage.’ (p.259)
Between the White Tiger and Balram there is shown the parallel again and again during the whole book. As himself the White Tiger is caught in a cage. Balram is kind of caught, too. Like the tiger Balram accepted his destiny for a long time. He did his job every day and did yoga to calm down.
‘A White Tiger keeps no friends. It’s too dangerous.’ (p.280)
Balram is a ‘White Tiger’ now. He has reached his aim to break out of the Darkness and has got a good life in the Light. The price he had to pay for that was a murder. His life now is worth too much as if he could risk having any person of conscience. He doesn’t trust anyone.
‘I’ve made it! I’ve broken out of the coop! (…) I’ve given myself away.’ (p.295)
Besides the murder Balram had to take the loss of his family for becoming what he has become. He has accepted the death of his family for his own good. His family who made possible that he could leave off into the Light.
“I am tomorrow “, ( page 6, The First Night)
Balram writes to the premier minister, Mr. Jiabao. He tells him not to waste time and money on senseless books which could not explain how to become an entrepreneur. Instead of buying those books Mr. Jiabao should ask him how to become an entrepreneur.
“Now, what kind of place is it where people forget to name their children?”
In the first years of his life Balram is called “Munna” which means boy because no one in his family had the time to name him. So, his teacher gives him the name Balram. It is not usual to not have time to name his own child. This shows how people set value on something in the Darkness. (p. 14, 1st night)
“Please understand, Your Excellency, that India is two countries in one: an India of Light, and an India of Darkness.” ( p. 14, 1st night)
“You see, I am in the Light now, but I was born and raised in Darkness” ( p. 14, 1st night)
India is divided into two parts: the “Darkness” and the “Light”. People in the “Darkness” are poor and live under bad conditions while the “Light” is for people who have brought it to something.
“These poor bastards had come from the Darkness to Delhi to find some light – but they were still in the darkness.” (p. 138)
Sometimes it is not enough to change the city and hope for a better life. Although Delhi is described as the city of light it still can be the darkness to people who have no money and no political status.
“One fact about India is that you can take almost anything you hear about the country from the prime minister and turn it upside down and then you will have the truth about that thing.” (p. 13, 1st night)
Balram writes this sentence to Mr. Jiabao and exaggerates in order to demonstrate in a more detailed way the true situation of India. For example it is said India possessed the biggest parliamentary democracy. But according to Balram it’s the exact contrary.
“The story of a poor man’s life is written on his body, in a sharp pen.” (p. 27)
This sentence indicates Indian working men have to do very hard work which is physical exhausting and leaves scarves and cuts on his body. Balram applies especially to the work of his father as a rickshawpuller. He describes his thin, powerless and with scarves filled body.
- “You, young man, are an intelligent, honest, vivacious fellow in this crowd of thugs and idiots. In any jungle, what is the rarest of animals – the creature that comes along only once in a generation?”
- “The white tiger”
- “That’s what you are, in this jungle.” (p. 35)
This is the first time when Balram is compared to a white tiger which shapes his entire life. In his childhood an inspector comes surprisingly to his school, asks questions to the kids and cognize Balram is the smartest. He calls him the white tiger that “comes along only once in a generation”. This means Balram indeed was born and raised in the darkness where no one believe a child with future can be born but is an exception.
“To break the law of his land – to turn bad news into good news – is the entrepreneur’s prerogative.”(p. 38)
“Even as a boy I could see what was beautiful in the world: I was destined not to stay a slave.” ( p. 41)
Different as the others Balram saw as a child the amenities of life and know from the beginning what he wanted to be in the future: in the light.
“I confess, Mr Premier: I am not an original thinker – but I am an original listener.” (p. 47)
Balram confesses he is not an “original thinker” and concedes futhermore the ideas or things he said to Mr. Jiabao are not his original thoughts. As a driver of Mr. Ashok he learned a lot from him and other guest in the car. He absorbed all the information.
“These days, there are just two castes: Men with Big Bellies, and Men with Small Bellies. And only two destinies: eat – or get eaten up.” (p. 64)
This sentence shows the slogan in India. There are only two extremes: the slaves and the lords. There is no thing in between.
“For the first time I can remember, I got more attention than the water buffalo.” (p. 83)
Balram never got this much attention - not even from his own family. There was always the water buffalo that had to be feed and that stole the affection which originally belonged to him. Therefore it is a formative event in his life.
“I had to be eighteen. All of us in the tea shop had to be eighteen, the legal age to vote.”
The masters always sold their workers to political parties so they had lots of votes. Although the workers, so Balram, were not eighteen, they were shown eighteen. This shows how easy it was to give birthdates in an illegal way.
“We have left the villages, but the masters still own us, body, soul and arse.” (p. 169)
Balram is just not free in India. Regardless how often he changes the location he just can not be free when being under the control of his master. So there is just one chance to be completely free: to be your own master.