False Statements in White Tiger

On page three of the novel the narrator states, “Only three nations have never let themselves be ruled by foreigners: China, Afghanistan, and Abyssinia. These are the only three nations I admire.”

While this sounds good and all anybody with a basic thirst for historical knowledge will know that all three of these nations have been ruled by “foreigners” just like every other piece of land in the world.

China: In 1271 China was taken over and ruled by the Mongols. The son of the legendary Genghis Khan, Kublai became the first emperor of Yuan Dynasty which existed for almost 100 years. In fact when Marco Polo reached China between the years of 1271-1275 he did not meet with a chinese leader but rather with the Mongol leader Kublai Khan.

Afghanistan: Also was conquered by the Mongols this time by Genghis him self. The major cities were destroyed and the population decreased dramatically. This happened in 1219. Also before the Russian invasion in the late 70′s the country was run by a puppet Government propped up by Moscow.

Abyssinia: Which is now known as Ethiopia was conquered and ruled by Mussolini’s fascist Italy . This ruled lasted from 1936-1941.

While the author may just not know his history it is interesting that he makes an assertion that at least some countries have not been ruled by others it is just too bad that it is not the truth. Every part of the world has changed hands many times and will continue to change hands in the future, it is human nature and it cannot be stopped.

Any opinions on why the author would put wrong information in his novel is welcomed.

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4 thoughts on “False Statements in White Tiger

  1. It may be incorrect information but keep in mind that the NARRATOR Balram is the one who says it in the novel. As he is a “half-baked” man with not a complete education, we have to think why would Aravind Adiga include this incorrect info? I see it as a way of showing a bit of Balram’s character and it suits that he is half-baked that the info is incorrect. Adiga is a master-mind and when looking at literature i always try to assume the author meant it to be there for some purpose.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. There is definitely a reason this huge error is here. A mistake this large is meant to be noticed by readers, but why is really the only question. I am wondering if the current poliocal/economic issues surrounding these countries are just as important, if not more so, than their occupied histories. With just the most basic understanding of information I can see why these three countries might be mentioned.
    I think China and Afganistan offer the most obvious explanations. China is a financial superpower (perhaps a mirror to Balram’s success). And Afganistan is currently a volital region of the world where social order could flip at any moment, I think this also links very well to Balram’s shift from servant to business owner. But the last country mentioned, Abyssinia may be the most interesting. I think it is very important that Bralam uses this name instead of Ethiopia. I just jumped on wikipedia in search of Abyssinia and found out it was the only empire able to resist European colonization in Africa. I’d say that is a pretty substantial accomplishment, I would also guess that Adiga knew this and was attempting to not only relate it to Balram, but India as well.

  3. Ethiopia is worth a deeper investigation, as the brief Italian occupation can hardly be called a colonial takeover. Not to minimize the occupation but to differentiate it from the long rule of other empires. In any case, symbolically the independence of Ethiopia has been a longstanding symbol of resistance for many. You may want to pursue, for example, the links between Ethiopia and the Rastafarian religion/movement,

  4. The point I was trying to make is that nobody has a divine right to a certain bit of land in the world, and to act like some countries have always controlled their land is a lie and fails to see that control of territory has always been up in the air and always will be.

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