The White Tiger


Aravind Adiga

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The White Tiger: Chapter 6: The Sixth Morning Summary & Analysis

Balram claims that Delhi corrupted him, made him capable of murder and rebellion, only after the city corrupted Ashok. After Pinky's departure, Ashok begins going out to bars and clubs at night. As his driver on these trips, Balram experiences Delhi's sordid underbelly. He feels that Ashok’s desire for women is contagious, and responds almost immediately to Ashok’s lust by feeling it himself.
Balram feels his master’s lust and restlessness as though they share the same body. Even though he has begun to resent being Ashok’s servant, his sense of Ashok’s power and superiority has been so deeply ingrained in his mind that he can’t escape it.
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During one of Ashok’s evenings out, Balram wanders into a nearby bookshop to pass the time. He chats with the bookseller and asks to stand near the books, just to feel the “electricity” of knowledge they give off. He mulls over Pinky Madam’s parting gift to him of 4700 rupees, and concludes that this money represented just a small part of the money she had withdrawn for herself. After he returns Ashok to the apartment building, he drives the Honda City recklessly around Delhi and spits all over the car.
Balram once denied that Ashok would ever chase women. Now, Balram’s rebellious and resentful feelings grow stronger as he watches Ashok drink, spend lavishly, and chase women night after night. He begins to lose his illusions about Ashok and to think about his masters’ past behavior, sparking the realization that whatever generosity they have shown him (for instance, Pinky Madam’s parting gift) was only a small fraction of what they could afford. Note the similarity between Balram’s spitting at the Black Fort and his spitting in the car: once again he seems to be scorning something, to be breaking away from it.
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The following evening, Balram drives Ashok around the city to deliver bribes. One minister’s assistant joins Ashok in the car and convinces him to hire a beautiful Ukrainian prostitute. When Ashok guiltily complies, Balram observes the woman from the front seat and is fascinated by her golden-haired, exotic western looks. After Ashok goes home, Balram drives back to the hotel where the men took the prostitute, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. When this fails, he takes another forbidden drive around Delhi. He feels that something is burning inside him, that the city reflects and feeds his angry, rebellious feelings.
Balram insists that the city of Delhi itself is a corrupting influence for both him and Ashok, like a mirror showing back to him his own feelings of anger and rebellion. Balram describes the process of his own corruption as a passive experience. It is simply a response to Ashok’s behavior and to life in Delhi. This passive take on his own corruption ties into the lack of remorse he later expresses for his own immoral behavior, and also ties into the novel’s general indictment of Indian society: both that it is so corrupt that it really does mainly reward those who are unethical, criminal, and corrupt; and also that it lacks the values that would make Balram see that of course there are moral lines that he should not cross, that no one can justify crossing.
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