In "An Astrologer's Day," what does "tangles of human ties" mean?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

But that was not to be. He had to leave home without telling anyone, and he could not rest till he left it behind a couple of hundred miles. To a villager it is a great deal, as if an ocean flowed between.

He had a working analysis of mankind's troubles : marriage, money, and the tangles of human ties. Long practice had sharpened his perception. Within five minutes he understood what was wrong. He charged three pies per question, never opened his mouth till the other had spoken for at least ten minutes, which provided him enough stuff for a dozen answers and advices.

The context (above) of the quotation, "tangles of human ties," helps us understand what it actually means. The narrator has just explained that the astrologer had to flee his village under cover of night's darkness. We learn later that it was because he stabbed a man with whom he had quarrelled while both were in a drunken fit. It is next that the narrator says the astrologer had a deep understanding of "mankind's troubles" relating to "marriage, money, and the tangles of human ties."

It is easy to understand the trouble related to marriage and money as those are commonly enough spoken about or made the subject of entertainment or literature. "Tangles of human ties" goes to the root of troubles like marriage and money and specifies the complexities of human relationships, also know as "human ties," that develop tangles. An example of a tangled human tie (or relationship) is the astrologer's relationship with the youth he stabbed and left for dead. They were undoubtedly friends, or at least acquaintances, or they would not have been drinking and gambling together. That friendship suddenly got tangled when the quarrel broke out and then tangled again when the impulse to stab and try to kill held sway in the astrologer's frenzied and youthful mind.

The reason this quote follows the passage about leaving home abruptly is that it serves to (1) foreshadow the tangled human tie that is about to be revealed to us and to (2) provide an example of what a tangled human tie is. Ironically, this tie becomes more tangled that evening and then, miraculously as well as ironically, becomes untangled when the astrologer falsely tells the revenge-hungry customer that his assailant of old died four months ago when run down and crushed by a lorry (large commercial truck):

"He died four months ago in a far-off town. You will never see anymore of him.” ...
"I hope at least he died as he deserved."
"Yes," said the astrologer. "He was crushed under a lorry."

nikitasharma | Student

Tangles of hman ties means the sufferings and troubles or hardships of human life.The astrologer was not a genuine astrologer .He didnt knew anything about astrology.He only used to pretend that he knew everthng going on in the life of his customer.He used to ask people about their life and after knowing everythng about their life,he used to arrange those answers in his mind and vomit out his prediction in a way that it satisfied the person and earn an ample of money.