What is the irony of the story "An Astrologer's Day"?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "An Astrologer's Day," irony is ever present. Narayan achieved consistency in his ironic tale. Nayak spends so much of his life searching for the man who had attacked him years ago, only to not even recognize the astrologer when he comes face to face with him. At the same time, the astrologer has lived with the guilt of killing a man he did not actually kill. The astrologer has lived his life in hiding for a crime he only thought he committed. Ironically, the astrologer has lived with a guilt of a crime he did not commit. 

Narayan's irony is not satirical. It is accepted by the reader:

Narayan's irony has a quality of acceptance that prevents it from becoming satire or cynicism.

The reader is releived by the ironic ending. The astrologer is innocent of murder. He uses his wit and intelligence to convince Nayak that his assailant is dead. The story ends on a happy note.

Narayan uses instances of irony which operate at the level of structure: 

These instances of irony operate at the level of structure, while the more obvious use of irony becomes evident when characters speak to each other.

Through character interaction, the irony unfolds. Nayak learns that his attacker is dead. The astrologer learns that he did not commit murder. Overall, the irony is never harsh or critical. It simply is a matter-of-fact as the reader learns about the past life of the astrologer. Human weakness is inevitable in this story. Ironically, the astrologer is not guilty of murder. When he learns the truth, he sleeps a peaceful sleep.   

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team