The White Tiger
Is it really true that we pity the poor? Doesn’t the prevailing worldview suggest that we should consider them morally objectionable? Self-inflicted with a stigma and responsible for their misery?
Today we no longer notice how much our thinking is shaped by capitalism. How much it penetrates all areas of our lives and reaches into the last cracks of our lives with its greedy fingers.
If you ask yourself how it could have come to this, then, according to Max Weber, it is worth taking a look at the city of Zurich at the beginning of the 16th century, because at that time there lived a church founder who had the greatest conceivable influence on our thinking today.
According to J. Calvin, at the beginning of time God divided people into the chosen and the unchosen. And nothing you do in this life has any influence on what happens to your soul after death.
Since it is impossible for us human beings to live with this uncertainty, we did everything possible to guess whether we were among the chosen.
The surest signs of this were “irrepressible diligence and economic success”. A person who was diligent and accumulated possessions could hope to be among the chosen by God.
To our enlightened ears this preform of capitalist thinking may sound a little strange. But when one considers that Calvin’s teachings had the greatest conceivable influence on the Reformed Churches of North America and “through its establishment throughout Western Europe became a world power”, one understands a little better what people do today.
For even if on the surface we are for the equality of all people, against exploitation and injustice, we all look up to the rich and would give our eyesight to belong to them. At least in our weakest moments.
It is in this spiritual setting that the story takes place: “The White Tiger.”
Aravind Adiga gives us a deep insight into the rotten heart of India. Into the lives of its rich elite, the corrupted system of its politicians and the legions of its poor, who will never in their lives know any other world but one full of hunger and pain.
It shows why the poor will always remain poor. Forever. Not only because they are kept small, because they have no possibility of advancement, but because they can no longer imagine another life.
And therefore will never break out of prison. Or “the henhouse,” as he calls it.
Aravind Adiga writes the story of a climber.
He tells how Balram, who comes from a lower caste, is given the opportunity to rise through the murder of his employer. And for this he takes everything upon himself, even the death of his own family.
The author raises the question whether there is no way out today. Whether there is no other way, no other way of living, to preserve what makes us valuable as human beings.
And it shows of his talent that he does not try to lecture us morally, to offer us a simple solution or to trivialize the act of his protagonist.
but that he alone makes the story work for us.
And it does. Because the world out there is full of Balrams of all kinds. And, like A. Adiga says there’s more every day.