Narrative Inspiration for White Tiger

Jack the Ripper's Infamous "From Hell" Letter

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?

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About Justin O'Riley

A self-professed "nerd," I love to write about things that make me "geek" out, especially video games, film and tv, fantasy/sci-fi, pro-wrestling, football, and retro stuff. I'm a father of a wonderful daughter who drives me to nothing less than the best!

One thought on “Narrative Inspiration for White Tiger

  1. I like this. Balram does seem to brag about having murdered his boss ,and he tries to make the murder and other miserable things in India humerous. Balram is not a very likable character which makes him untrustworthy (most people would probably not trust a murderer anyways.) There are definately similarities in Jack the Ripper and Balram. But I think the reason it is written like this is mostly to show how corrupt everything is and that you need to do awful things to move your way up. When you look at so many of the people in the novel they all do corrupt things; many more corrupt thant Balram. The idea that Balram was admitting all this to the prime minister of China I thought was crazy of him. But this definately makes Balram similar to Jack the Ripper.

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