The White Tiger


Aravind Adiga

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The Rooster Coop Symbol Analysis

The Rooster Coop Symbol Icon

The Rooster Coop is Balram’s metaphor for describing the oppression of India’s poor. Roosters in a coop at the market watch one another slaughtered one by one, but are unable or unwilling to rebel and break out of the coop. Similarly, India’s poor people see one another crushed by the wealthy and powerful, defeated by the staggering inequality of Indian society, but are unable to escape the same fate. In fact, he argues that the poor actively stop each other from escaping, either willfully by cutting each other down, or less purposely but just as powerfully, through a culture that makes them expect such abuse and servitude. The Rooster Coop Balram describes is one that’s “guarded from the inside.”

Balram believes that the traditional Indian family unit keeps the Rooster Coop of social inequality alive. If a servant attempts to escape or disobeys his employer, the superior’s family will punish the servant by murdering or brutally torturing his family. In this way, familial loyalty and love become weaknesses in the context of rooster coop logic. In a country where the rules are stacked so overwhelmingly against the poor, Balram comes to believe that to create a better life and “break out of the Rooster Coop,” one must be willing to sacrifice everything, including attachment to traditional morals and to one’s family.

The Rooster Coop Quotes in The White Tiger

The The White Tiger quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Rooster Coop. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Self-Made Man Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Free Press edition of The White Tiger published in 2008.
Chapter 5: The Fifth Night Quotes

“The greatest thing to come out of this country... is the Rooster Coop. The roosters in the coop smell the blood from above. They see the organs of their brothers...They know they’re next. Yet they do not rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop. The very same thing is done with human beings in this country.”

Related Characters: Balram Halwai (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Rooster Coop
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

“... But where my genuine concern for him ended and where my self-interest began, I could not tell: no servant can ever tell what the motives of his heart are... We are made mysteries to ourselves by the Rooster Coop we are locked in.”

Related Characters: Balram Halwai (speaker), Mr. Ashok
Related Symbols: The Rooster Coop
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

“The Rooster Coop was doing its work. Servants have to keep other servants from becoming innovators, experimenters, or entrepreneurs. Yes, that’s the sad truth, Mr. Premier. The coop is guarded from the inside.”

Related Characters: Balram Halwai (speaker), Wen Jiabao, Vitiligo-Lips
Related Symbols: The Rooster Coop
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Rooster Coop Symbol Timeline in The White Tiger

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Rooster Coop appears in The White Tiger. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: The Fifth Night
The Self-Made Man Theme Icon
Social Breakdown, Self-Interest, and Corruption Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Morality and Indian Society Theme Icon
...feel justified in framing him for the hit-and-run accident, Balram introduces the metaphor of the Rooster Coop . As he sees it, India’s poor are like roosters crowded together in cages, watching... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Seventh Night
The Self-Made Man Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
...he hears stirrings and rumors of revolution, of men trying to break out of the Rooster Coop . He doubts that anything will happen, because the Indian people wait passively for revolution... (full context)