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? Can someone help me write an introduction and thesis and help me with that. I also need help in setting up the next 3 paragraphs, which I have to relate back to my thesis. I need help finding quotes as well, so I would appreciate it to have help on the introduction leading to the thesis. Then give me ideas of what I should talk about in the next 3 paragraphs. Then I need a conclusion. I need a clear, strong thesis.

Expert Answers
poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Balram's father is Vickram Halwai, a poor rickshaw puller who wishes for at least one of his sons to have the opportunity to "live like a man." Vickram ensures that Balram is taught to read and to write, despite the fact that this provokes the teasing of people in the village. It is through this education that Balram manages to impress the inspector and earn the nickname of the "white tiger" because he is "an intelligent, honest, vivacious fellow in this crowd of thugs and idiots."

Although Balram has to leave school to support the family, his father's death prompts him to move to Dhanbad, where he finds work as a driver for Mr. Ashok. It is at this point when Mr. Ashok and his father quiz Balram about his caste that we receive insight into what Balram's father meant when he said he has been "treated like a donkey" and what exactly it means to "live like a man." We learn that up until the British departure from India in 1947, the Halwais had been sweet makers; without British infrastructure in place, the Halwais fell into poverty due to the corruption of the new government. Balram reveals to his new employer that he is of the lowest caste, and Balram later learns that Mr. Ashok was actually born in the same village as him. Although it seems that Balram is starting to find his way in the world, he is clearly still beholden to his employer and not yet a free man.

Balram follows Mr. Ashok to Delhi, where he is eventually forced to read a statement that implicates him in the murder of a beggar child, a murder which was actually the result of Ashok's wife's careless driving. Balram manages to escape going to jail merely because the report never makes its way to the police. Ashok's marriage dissolves, and he turns to engaging with prostitutes.

Balram starts to lose his loyalty to Ashok when he realizes exactly how much the man has cost him; he begins to steal, engages in debauchery of his own, and plans to murder Ashok. Balram murders Ashok by pretending that there is an issue with the car he drives and then smashing a Johnnie Walker Black bottle over Ashok's head, leaving him on the side of the road to die just like the beggar child.

Thus, Balram's true freedom is born. With his now dead employer's money in tow, he takes off to Bangalore to embrace his independence, despite the fact that he is also now a fugitive from the law. With this in mind, we can now answer your question: yes, Balram's father's wish did come true by the end of the novel, albeit perhaps not in the way that Balram's father would have envisioned. Certainly Vickram would not have been pleased with the idea of his son becoming a criminal and a murderer, but in the dog-eat-dog political climate of India, this was Balram's clearest route to "living like a man."

If the Halwais had taken a similar path when the British left India, they may not have wound up in the bottom caste. Because of the injustice in how these castes were formed and the rampant nature of poverty, we can argue that Balram did not have much choice in how he obtained his manhood; he could remain pure and languish away in poverty like his family, or he could take justice into his own hands in order to climb outside the confines of his upbringing. In choosing the latter, he was able to escape his caste (largely through the accumulation of money) and to become responsible for his own fate: two qualities which seem to define manhood in India at this time. He is no longer faced with the destiny of his father; in killing Ashok, he has risen up against the act of being used "like a donkey" by another human being.

Unfortunately, this means that Balram did fall into a different kind of trap. His actions mirror Ashok's behaviors. He is a "man" by the end of the novel, yes. However, is he a good one? To that point, we might then answer your other question: "Is personal freedom necessary for a fully human life?"

Given the suffering that those who do not have freedom experience in the novel, the answer to that would certainly be "yes, personal freedom is necessary for a fully human life." Balram's parents die in poverty, as does the beggar boy who is hit by the car. Balram suffers at the hands of Ashok until he kills him and is able to escape his abuse.

You alone can decide if Balram is truly free. That is a matter of personal opinion. What does freedom mean to you? For me,  the weight of living with a crime as heinous as murder would be unbearable and would not feel like freedom; living a life as a man wanted for a crime and pursued by authorities would not feel free either. However, I'd argue that Balram does see himself as truly free.  

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The White Tiger

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