Narrative Authority: The Intersection of Mass Media, White Saviors, Corporate Interests, and the Subaltern Voice


  • Jessica Merrill


The narratives that are disseminated by various parties who are members and tools of the dominant culture serve to conceal not only the voices of the marginalized but also the treachery of those who take advantage of them while inflating the conscience of those who hope to satisfy a moral obligation to help the poor. This essay will explore the different voices in Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People. This novel utilizes the narrative voice in a unique manner, allowing a disabled, impoverished young boy named Animal to tell the story of his life of oppression, suffering, and marginalization through a series of tapes addressed
to what he refers to as “the Eyes.” Sinha allows Animal to speak for himself, but, in doing so, Animal highlights other dominant narrative trends, including the visual and auditory power of the mass media in communicating the position of the poor, the white saviors’ interpretation of and response to what they see and hear of the poor, and how these contribute to the corporate interests’ ability to remain invisible and thus avoid responsibility for their actions. Sinha uses characters such as Elli, a white American doctor, who comes to Khaufpur to open a clinic, Jarnalis, an Australian journalist, who leaves a set of tapes for Animal to record his story on his own time, and the big Kampani lawyers, who hide the parties actually responsible for the disaster the novel describes. I will postulate
that the connections between mass media representations, white savior responses, and the resulting benefits to corporate interests are the narratives that should be scrutinized so that the narrative authority can be given back to those with lived experience.