I have to write an essay on this: In The White Tiger, Balram’s father states that “my whole life I have been treated like a donkey. All I want is that one son of mine—at least one—should...

I have to write an essay on this: In The White Tiger, Balram’s father states that “my whole life I have been treated like a donkey. All I want is that one son of mine—at least one—should live like a man.” (26) By the end of the novel, does Balram’s father’s wish come true? Please formulate a clear, specific thesis on this topic and discuss it. To do so, consider what it means to live “like a man.” Is personal freedom necessary for a fully human life? Is Balram free at the end of the novel or is he entrapped by his prior choices? Having trouble with this. I have to formulate a clear intro and a strong thesis to get started with my essay.
Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very complicated question, and you can come down on either side of it. Balram decides that his own personal freedom and his chance to escape his humble origins (which he refers to as "darkness") and live the life of a wealthy entrepreneur justify not only murdering his boss, Mr. Ashok, but also potentially causing the death of his family. As retribution for killing Mr. Ashok, Balram's family is also likely to be murdered. Still, he reasons,  it is the only way to break out of the Rooster Coop, the metaphor Balram uses to describe the grinding hopelessness of India's poor.

Still, it is questionable whether Balram really is free at the end of the novel. He lives with the knowledge that he has committed murder and that he has likely caused the murder of his family. He is also trapped in a system of inequity and ruthlessness. Is this truly freedom?

Your thesis should include your take on Balram's situation. You can argue that he is finally able to live like a man, as he has broken out of the poverty into which he was born. You can, on the other hand, choose to argue that Balram has broken out of the "darkness" (which refers to India's rural poverty) but that he is still entrapped in immorality and corruption. Which thesis you decide on (or whether you decide on another thesis entirely) depends on whether you think he is free at the end of the novel to make his own choices or is still caught in a corrupt and limiting system. 

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