Study Guide

Slumdog Millionaire Perseverance

Perseverance

INSPECTOR: A little electricity will loosen his tongue.

It takes more than a little torture to shake Jamal, who's been to hell and back in order to get where he is. He's not about to fold now.

JAMAL: YAAAA! AMITABH!

Jamal's determination to meet his hero shows that even from a young age, Jamal has been relentless in achieving any goal to which he sets his mind.

SALIM: He offered a good price, so I sold it.

Salim, however, undermines Jamal's hard work by stealing the autographed picture and selling it for a few rupees for his own benefit. In this contrast between Jamal's principled perseverance, and Salim's more morally ambiguous opportunism, we can see as the two brothers embark down two different paths.

EUROPEAN TOURIST: It says nothing of this in the guidebook.

JAMAL: The guidebook was written by a bunch of lazy, good-for-nothing Indian beggars.

Jamal is remarkably quick on his feet, and uses his wit and ingenuity to his advantage to carve out a niche as a tour guide for foreigners. These qualities continually help him survive when all the odds are stacked against him.

SALIM: Maman never forgets, isn't that right?

MAMAN: Maman can make an exception.

SALIM: I can't take that risk.

For the first half of the story, it appears that Salim is concerned above all else with self-preservation. Yet as protector and guardian of Jamal and Latika, he makes the decision to kill Maman in order to save not only himself, but his family as well.

PREM: It's getting hot in here!

JAMAL: Are you nervous?

PREM: What? Am I nervous? It's you who's in the hot seat, my friend.

JAMAL: Oh, yes, sorry!

MALE PRODUCER: Well, he's got Prem on the run.

FEMALE PRODUCER: Finally!

As Jamal continues to defy the odds, answering question after question correctly, he has Prem against the ropes—and they both know it.

LATIKA: Jamal. Look at you.

JAMAL: I found you.

Through sheer force of will, Jamal has finally made it into Javed's compound to find Latika.

JAMAL: I'll wait, at V.T. station, every day until you come. I love you.

LATIKA: So what. It's too late, Jamal. Now go.

Even though Latika explains it is best for Jamal's safety, as well as her own, for him to leave and forget about her, Jamal simply won't take no for an answer. He knows she's in danger every day with Javed, and will not quit until she's free.

SALIM: That guy, he will never give up.

Salim certainly hits the nail on the head with this observation; Jamal is the definition of determination.

JAMAL: Where are you?

LATIKA: I'm safe.

We've spent much of this section discussing Jamal's perseverance, but we can't overlook Latika in this conversation. She too has been able to persevere, in her own way.