This is another post from my Contemporary Literature Class. This one was about Freudian Approach On The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. It was for my final exam. Perhaps you noticed that I used psychological approaches a lot in analyzing these literary works. Oh well, I simply think that they’re interesting and fascinating. Those are the smart answers or smart reasons. The not so smart reason was that these approaches are the only one that I understand among the other approaches…So sad, but true… Oh well, off you go!
On The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Eugenia Lupita – 11410023
The White Tiger, published in 2008, is a novel by Aravind Adiga. It tells a story of Balram Halwai, the protagonist of the story, a man who was born in Laxmangarh, Bihar. Balram narrates the novel as a letter, which he wrote in seven consecutive nights and addressed to the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao. In his letter, Balram explains how he, the son of rickshaw puller, escaped a life of servitude to become a successful businessman, describing himself as a successful entrepreneur.
I’m going to use Freudian Approach to analyze the book. The approach is named after Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856, in a small town — Freiberg — in Moravia. He went to a medical school and was famous for his theory of the unconscious. According to Freud, human mind is composed of three elements, Id, Ego, and Superego. In this novel, I am trying to analyze the male protagonist, Balram Halwai, using these three elements of the human mind when he kills his boss, Ashok.
Id is always in the unconscious. It is the basic drive of human being. It is present from birth, and driven entirely by the pleasure principle. In the novel, Balram’s Id is apparent when he is in the middle of trying to kill his employer. It is shown when he feels that his employer is not going to get out of the car. His Id tells him to blackmail him. As we can see in the novel, “He was still wriggling—his body was moving as far from me as it could. I’m losing him, I thought, and this forced me to do something I knew I would hate myself for, even years later. I really didn’t want to do this—I really didn’t want him to think, even in the two or three minutes he had left to live, that I was that kind of driver—the one that resorts to blackmailing his master—but he had left me no option: “It’s been giving problems ever since that night we went to the hotel in Jangpura.”” In this part of the novel, it is apparent that his Id urges him to resort to blackmail.
Ego is the one dealing with the reality. It develops from the Id and works to channel the Id’s urges so that it can be expressed in an acceptable manner in the real world. In the novel, I think Balram’s ego is conflicted when he is trying to get Ashok out of the car and Ashok is being difficult. He can resort to blackmail just like what his Id tells him to or just forget his entire plan. However, in the quotation, “I’m losing him, I thought, and this forced me to do something I knew I would hate myself for, even years later. I really didn’t want to do this—I really didn’t want him to think, even in the two or three minutes he had left to live, that I was that kind of driver—the one that resorts to blackmailing his master—but he had left me no option:” I think that Balram’s ego is weaker than his Id. Thus, he follows his Id and resorts to blackmail, because the reality forces him to.
Superego is the moral value in human mind. It holds all of our internalized moral standards and ideals that we acquire from both parents and society. Balram superego is not that apparent compared to his id in this part of the novel, but in a couple of times, his superego makes him feel fear because of his action. For example in this quotation, “Just then headlights flashed on me: a car was coming down the road. My heart skipped a beat. But it just drove right past us, splashing muddy water at my feet.” Here, his superego makes him feel fear because he is doing something that, according to his superego, is wrong. Another time where his superego kicks in is shown in this quotation, “I stood still, like a schoolboy caught out by his teacher. I thought: That landlord’s brain of his has figured it out. He’s going to stand up and hit me in the face.”
After analyzing the book, I can conclude that in the moment where Balram is trying to kill his employer, Ashok, the three elements of his mind comes to action. His Id is driving him to do everything in order to achieve the pleasure of killing his employer. His superego, realizing that the action of killing is morally wrong, makes Balram feels scared a couple of times during the process. And his ego, contemplating between the Id and the Superego decides to side with the Id, because the ego is weaker than the id at that time, when he finally resorts to blackmail.