What is unique about the trickster (the astrologer) in the story "An Astrologer's Day"?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What is unique about the trickster in "An Astrologer's Day" is that he has a special talent for his profession. He doesn't know anything about astrology and doesn't care anything about it. He never tries to learn any of its esoteric dogma. To know more would be a handicap. This perhaps gives him an advantage over his many competitors, and especially over those who really believe in astrology.

He was as much a stranger to the stars as were his innocent customers. Yet he said things which pleased and astonished everyone: that was more a matter of study, practice, and shrewd guesswork.... He had a working analysis of mankind's troubles: marriage, money, and the tangles of human ties.... Within five minutes he understood what was wrong.

This astrologer is "street smart," "people smart." His flight to a big city forced him to develop talents he didn't know he possessed. His problem was a blessing in disguise. He learns how to interact with people. He understands what they really want from him and he is usually able to give it to them. Most of his clients are looking for confirmation of what they already think and feel. If he listens to them he can sense what it is they want to be told--and then he simply tells them what they want to hear. They are looking for validation, permission, reassurance, confirmation, approval, understanding. Any successful trickster has to have the ability to understand people and relate to them. This man is relatively successful--for an astrologer. He earns enough to be able to support himself and his little family from day to day. And that is what countless millions of people have to do in India. 

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nayan98 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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The unique thing about the astrologer in the story,is that he does not actually cheat people via his business.As mentioned in the story,he had a working knowledge of human ties,and therefore whatever he says to his customers is not wrong.Most of the things he informs them about they are already aware of,but would like to hear again from a 'trustworthy' source,instilling a feeling of security.His is an honest business,and at the end of the day he is just a man earning his living.



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