Describe the role of fate and chance in the story "An Astrologer's Day"?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In "An Astrologer's Day," the role of fate or chance is evident. It is by chance that the astrologer set up his place of business in the area that Guru Nayak just happened to pass by. Guru Nayak has no idea who the astrologer really is. By chance, Guru Nayak lights a cheroot and the astrologer can see Guru Nayak's face. 

As fate would have it, Guru Nayak is not dead. He is searching for the astrologer, not knowing he is talking to him. Because of fate, Guru Nayak survives the stabbing wounds of the astrologer years ago. Now, he is searching to find the man who stabbed him many years ago. By chance, Guru Nayak comes upon the astrologer. He does not recognize the astrologer as his attacker.

As fate would have it, the astrologer goes unrecognized. He escapes with Guru Nayak's money and his life. It was not in the stars for the astrologer to be recognized by Guru Nayak.

The astrologer tells Guru Nayak what he wants to hear. He prophesies that the astrologer is indeed dead, killed by a truck. Guru Nayak leaves the astrologer with peace of mind that his attacker is dead. The astrologer is relieved that he did not kill a man he thought he had killed. The story has a happy ending because of fate and chance. 

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andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Fate refers to the development and occurrence of events beyond a person's control and is normally regarded as being determined by a supernatural power, such as a god, that is believed to control a person's destiny. Chance, on the other hand, can refer either to the possibility of something happening or the occurrence and development of events without evidence of any obvious design.

In the story, the confluence of both elements creates an interesting encounter that is both ironic and intriguing. The astrologer sets up a workplace as an astrologer after he leaves his home village. He is clearly obligated to do so since he mentions regret about having to leave. In this instance, it is fate that compelled the change. He is destined to be in the position he finds himself in. 

On the specific day in question, while the astrologer is busy packing up, he sees a possible client. The meeting between him and this individual seems to be ruled by chance. It is also by chance that his visitor lights up a cheroot and he is able to recognize him. He realizes that it is a man whom he stabbed and dropped down a well, leaving him for dead, many years ago when he was still an irresponsible young man. 

It becomes apparent later that it was because he believed that he had killed this man, Guru Nayak, that he left his village, possibly to escape retribution. Fate intervened and Nayak survived the attack. Their chance encounter is the result of Nayak having also left the same village to find his erstwhile attacker and take revenge. Fate, once again, intervenes, for Nayak does not recognize the astrologer as his assailant.

The fact that the astrologer recognizes his past victim gives him the chance to save himself from any possible future persecution. He, in the role of astrologer, is very convincing: he provides his client exact details of his attack and tells him that the perpetrator has been killed by a lorry. In the end, it is the coming together of both fate and chance that resolves the issues that both characters have. One finds resolution through a lie, while the other finds resolution in a truth—the fact that a victim he thought was dead is actually alive.