In The White Tiger, what is the real reason why Balram murdered Mr. Ashok?

In The White Tiger, the real reason why Balram murders Mr. Ashok is to escape from what he calls the "Rooster Coop." This is his metaphor for the oppressive situation in which poor Indians like himself find themselves. So long as he remains working for Ashok and his family, he will always be trapped in this cage of repression and exploitation. Killing Ashok is the only way he can escape this.

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It isn't very long after arriving in the big city that Balram realizes just how corrupt and rotten to the core public life in India really is. He soon discovers that the rich live by their own rules, able to do largely as they please. Their continued ascendancy is maintained by a political system riddled with graft and corruption, which the likes of Ashok and his family exploit to their advantage.

In such a toxic social environment, poor people like Balram don't stand a chance. It's virtually impossible for him to move up the social ladder. Even working for a rich, privileged family like Ashok's confers no real benefits upon him. In fact, it has its own dangers, as one can see when Balram is expected to take the rap when Ashok's wife, Pinky Madam, knocks down and kills a child while driving under the influence.

If Balram doesn't take the rap, there's every danger he'll be set up for the crime in any case— such are the levels of police corruption in New Delhi. Under the circumstances then, Balram has no choice but to escape—and fast. And the only way he can do this, the only way he can escape the "Rooster Coop" of poverty and exploitation, is by killing Ashok.

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Aravind Adiga's novel paints a dark picture of India's class struggle in a globalized world. Through the eyes of Balram, the reader can sense the unbridgeable chasm that exists between the elite and the impoverished.

Balram Halwai is the perfect slave to his master. In Ashok's constant company, he gets to peer into the lives of the rich and the famous. His own life, however, remains consigned to the murky depths of Delhi's underbelly. Ashok's wife kills a child in a drunk driving accident. The couple persuades Balram to take responsibility for the act. Instead of becoming a victim of his selfish, corrupt, and callous master's conspiracy, Balram decides to become the perpetrator. He smashes the skull of his employer and steals a large bag of money.

Balram observes that neither Pinky nor Ashok regrets the unfortunate accident. He does not see the necessity to repent the murder either. He justifies the killing as an existential act.

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The answer to this question is likely going to differ from reader to reader. While there could be many possible reasons, I think two possible reasons stand out. The first reason is based on the following quote:

All I wanted was the chance to be a man—and for that, one murder was enough.

This quote comes from Balram as he thinks about his past and the murder. This quote suggests that Balram's motivation was based on his desire to fight against a societal oppression that prevented him from being a man. In his eyes, being a man meant having the freedom to pursue certain dreams of his. Ashok was in the way of Balram becoming a man, so Balram killed him. The ends justifies the means in this case.

I think another possible reason for Balram killing Ashok is greed. Balram has been witness to Ashok's corrupt dealings, and Balram sees how wealthy a man Ashok is. Balram realizes that if he kills Ashok, he can take the bag of bribery money and become a fairly wealthy individual in a fairly short amount of time. This is the reason that I would support. I think the justification that Balram himself gives for the murder (which I have mentioned in the previous paragraph) is Balram trying to rationalize his actions with something that sounds somewhat "worthy."

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In recalling his history, Belram thinks about his murder of Mr. Ashok, who was his master at the time. Belram had been forced to become a driver because of poverty, and while he appreciated the work that Ashok gave to him, he was also resentful of his social class and wanted to be free. As the novel progresses, the corruption of government and law enforcement grows stronger, and Belram realizes that he cannot get ahead without becoming corrupted himself. He does not rationalize it beyond that, however, and does not lie to himself about the evil of his deed. To escape the crimes of Ashok and his father, Stork, Belram kills Ashok, robs him, and starts his own business.

Kill enough people and they will put up bronze statures to you near Parliament House in Helhi -- but that is glory, and not what I am after. All I wanted was the chance to be a man -- and for that, one murder was enough.
(Adiga, The White Tiger, Google Books)

His reason for the killing was to escape the crimes of the area, but at the end of the novel he discovers that he is responsible for many of the same crimes as the people he has fled; also, it is likely that his family was killed in revenge. Belram accepts this as a given, and decides that the extra deaths he has caused are acceptable since he has won his freedom, and now no man is his master.

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