Capitalism, Caste, and Con-games in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger

Snehal Shingavi


While most critics read Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger as a critique of capitalism and poverty, the novel's deep interest in slumming and passing reveals a darker endorsement of libertarian ideologies. The problem with the novel's central trope, the class masquerade, is that it functions simultaneously as a critique of caste identitarianism that also aligns the novel with anti-reservation politics in India. As a result, the novel is better understood as the intersection of neoliberal narratives of poverty alleviation ("poverty capital") and libertarian narratives of individual uplift, even if that uplift is morally tainted.

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