What character traits does the astrologer have? 

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The astrologer has many positive character traits. He is self-reliant, intelligent, resourceful, courageous, and industrious. He is willing to work as long as ten or  twelve hours a day every day of the week in order to earn a tiny amount of money to support himself, his wife, and his little daughter. He obviously does not have much of an education. He would have been a simple peasant if he hadn't gotten into a quarrel with Guru Nayak back at their village and had been forced to flee to a big city because he thought he had killed the other man with a knife.

He had left his village without any previous thought or plan. If he had continued there he would have carried on the work of his forefathers--namely, tilling the field, marrying and ripening in his cornfield and ancestral home.

Once in the city he had to find a means to exist without a trade and in an overpopulated land where people die of starvation on the streets every night. He may have acquired his so-called "professional equipment" because some other self-styled astrologer couldn't make a living and abandoned them. The astrologer has to be intelligent in order to convince enough people that he can actually tell their fortunes and give them valuable advice. He has learned that most people have similar life problems and can be satisfied with similar advice. When he is confronted by his nemesis Guru Nayak, the astrologer keeps his nerve and actually makes money from the violent man rather than getting killed in revenge.

The reader, like the astrologer's mistrustful client, is startled when the astrologer calls him by name.

"Guru Nayak--"

"You know my name!" the other said, taken aback.

"As I know all other things, Guru Nayak..."

How can this trickster know the client's name? Does he really possess supernatural powers? We do not find out for some time that by the sheerest coincidence the astrologer is being consulted by the man he thought he had killed years ago. He is both alarmed and relieved. At least the man is not dead, and he is not a murderer. But the client is looking for the man who knifed him and intends to kill him if he finds him. 

We have to admire this resourceful astrologer in spite of the fact that he is barely eking out a living from day to day. If he lived in a land that offered better opportunities he might become rich. He can't even afford to have his own illumination in the park but depends on the lights of nearby vendors.  We can only imagine what it must be like if the weather turns bad. If it rains for several days in a row, the astrologer and his family may go hungry. But he has the courage and brains necessary to survive under these harsh conditions, and he has even been sufficiently successful to be able to get married and have a child. R. K. Narayan's story tells a lot about India in describing one day in the life of one man.