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Critique Essay of the Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy - Politics

Updated on July 23, 2016


Arundhati Roy was born in Shillong, India in 1961; she was raised in Kerala. Roy is the daughter of Hindu and Syrian Christian parents. Her premier novel, ‘The God of Small Things,’ instantly transformed her into a world renowned celebrity. The Algebra of Infinite Justice is a collection of essays that comprises a bulk of her political work. Published in 2001, she attempts to criticize American policies in the world. She began her scathing attack on American policy when the Taliban, who were fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, were funded and trained by the CIA. This established the roots of terror, from there; it spread all over the world. According to her, terrorists are the ‘ghosts’ of America’s proxy wars returning to haunt it. The Algebra of Infinite Justice is all about dissecting America’s policy in the world.

The Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy


The contents of the essay

In this essay, Arundhati Roy discusses the responsibility of America in initiating terrorist action on itself by killing people all over the world. This comes from the common knowledge of that what goes around must eventually come around. She bases her allegations on the political opinions that she has held for some time. This essay serves to show the author’s anger over terrorism. The main point in this discourse is to assess the American foreign policy in the world which the United States does to advance the American Way of Life (Roy, 2001). She then proceeds to vehemently support her opinion that it is the American policies that are hated around the world, not the people. She tries to justify that it is these policies that have brought destructive acts or terror on America.

The essay begins by first convincing the reader to sympathize with the American citizens after they have undergone a terrorist attack. Then in an instant shift from her opening tone, Roy begins bashing the American government. She singles out Operation Infinite Justice, later renamed Operation Enduring Freedom as pointless. She sarcastically asks, “Infinite Justice or Enduring Freedom for whom?” The essay is a good argumentative essay because the writer regularly shifts between opinions and disputations. She obliges the reader to develop an opinion on issues she deems paramount. The author has an outstanding command of the language and as such, the essay has a smooth flow. She presents her arguments and backs them with the relevant facts. The author presents the reader with a historical account on what she thinks caused terrorism and allows the reader to comprehend these facts. Throughout the essay, the reader is routinely presented with facts and taken from one scenario to the other as American policy is dissected. She concludes the essay by giving the reader a comprehensive breakdown on President Bush and Osama bin Laden. She likens Bush and Osama to each other and analyzes the rhetoric and the tactics that they both employ. The conclusion of the essay is meant to give the reader an opportunity to see an in-depth analysis of both Bush and Osama and to know that neither is justified.

The author employs her excellent command of the language to convince the reader that America’s policies are the reason for the 2001 terror attacks. She successfully shows the reader how different issues would be if politics and everyday life could be separated. The author gives the several reader facts to support her argument. In one instance, she gives an example of the 500,000 Iraqi children who perished because of sanctions by the United States. This is during the interview of Madeleine Albright, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations. She then tries to evoke the reader’s emotions by asking; “How many dead children for every dead man?” She also lists the 16,000 people killed by a gas leak at a Union Carbide plant and sarcastically asks India to request for the CEO of the company to be extradited. She also analyzes the source of funding for the Taliban from the opium trade, this, she puts at between 100 and 200 billion dollars.

The author uses misery to express her concerns; this makes her miss her focus on the viewpoint in many instances. A significant part of the essay sounds like poignant flare-ups rather than a rational and coherent argument. However, they fulfill their purpose of poking docile readers out of their contentment. On the flip side, in this essay, the author clearly elucidates the injustice given out by Americans, justified as revenge and as a war against terror. She successfully raises several facts in this work and expresses her dissent on the method used by the United States’ government to fight terror. She could have improved the essay by steering clear of the use of misery to pass her message.

The author could have improved her essay by avoiding repetition in her description of American policies in the world. She could have also improved her essay if she could have not vehemently opposed President Bush’s government. By doing this, she simply degenerated into another anti-Bush person. In her essay, she gives the appearance of patronizing her readers and makes them aware of facts that they already know. Her essay could have been improved had she avoided being patronizing.


The clash of civilizations is a theme that the author tries to promote in this essay; she questions it and the collateral damage arising from it. Roy outlines the ineffectuality of American policy in fighting terrorism. She beseeches the world not to employ violence on innocent Afghan citizens in the fight against terror. The war on terror is precisely what the terrorists require for their propaganda purposes.


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