During class discussion today I couldn’t help but think that Balram is similar to Jack the Ripper. While Jack the Ripper was a bona-fide serial killer, Balram doesn’t quite have as many random homicides in his narration (or at least he never tells “us”). The reason I make this comparison is due to the letter narration. Jack the Ripper was infamous for sending letters to the police and newspapers, often taunting and boasting about his deeds. Doesn’t it seem that Balram is doing something similar? After all, his letters are addressed specifically to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who is (presumably) a high-ranking foreign diplomat. Furthermore, Balram seems to not only be telling his life story, but is bragging to Jiabao about murdering his ex-employer and his wife. Even the “darkness” of India that Balram describes casts images of the late-Victorian darker age of London, the time of Jack the Ripper.
I’m not saying that Aravind Adiga purposely studied Jack the Ripper or even the Zodiac (also sent letters to police that were arrogant and boastful) when he began constructing the narrative of Balram. However, there are so many similarities between Adiga’s fictional Balram and Jack the Ripper that it’s very likely the narrative of Balram was loosely inspired by Jack the Ripper. I have yet to complete the novel, but I wonder if my perspective will change when I subconsciously associate Balram with Jack the Ripper. Does it affect your perspective at all?