In what way is the Astrologer's narrative comparable to others?
“An Astrologer’s Day” is a story of survival:
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 land, living, marrying, and ripening in his cornfield and ancestral home . . . he could not rest till he left it behind a couple of hundred miles.
The protagonist may have had nothing but the clothes on his back when he arrived in the big, strange, crowded, noisy city. He probably had to beg for food along the way. He must have ended up as an astrologer by the purest chance. Possibly he found some “professional equipment” abandoned by another self-styled astrologer who gave up or starved to death. The newcomer might have decided to try this role in hopes of garnering just enough to buy something to eat and found that he had a talent he never knew he possessed. He has been relatively successful. He has not only managed to support himself, but now he is supporting a wife and a child.
The story faintly resembles “The Verger” by Somerset Maugham. The protagonist loses his job as verger because his new pastor discovers he is illiterate. How does the poor man survive after all these years in a safe, simple occupation? Like the astrologer, he is smart and adaptable. He opens a tea shop. People like the place. The business expands. The ex-verger becomes rich. What is true for the hero of "The Verger" is not necessarily true for everyone; however, there are a lot of men like Maugham's Albert Edward Foreman who have little book-learning but plenty of worldly wisdom obtained through intelligent observation of the real world.
If the astrologer had remained in his village he would have remained an ignorant peasant. We can imagine what that would be like, following an emaciated cow with a wooden plow through land that had already been exhausted by countless centuries of tillage. If the verger had remained in the church he would have remained a verger. In both cases what seemed like adversity was an opportunity in disguise. The astrologer is not rich, but he has become sophisticated and urbane. And his daughter has a chance at a much better life.
In As You Like It, Shakespeare has Duke Senior say the following wise words:
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
And according to the great Buddha:
People naturally fear misfortune and long for good fortune; but if the distinction is carefully studied, misfortune often turns out to be good fortune and good fortune to be misfortune.
Survival is the iron law of life. Adversity can stimulate new survival strategies. There is no security in life. Everyone lives from day to day. In Macbeth, Shakespeare has Hecate tell the three witches:
And you all know security
Is mortals’ chiefest enemy.