An Astrologer's Day

by R. K. Narayan

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What is the character sketch of the astrologer in "An Astrologer's Day"?

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In "An Astrologer's Day," the astrologer is a shrewd and observant ordinary man who masquerades as a genuine fortune teller. He uses his keen people-reading skills and educated guesswork to make his living, often astoundingly accurate in his predictions. However, the astrologer also harbors a fear of his past coming back to haunt him, which is revealed when he encounters a man he once stabbed and left for dead. Despite this, he manages to convince the man that his attacker is dead, thereby alleviating his own fears.

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In "An Astrologer's Day," the main character is the astrologer. He is an ordinary man who practices to be a genuine astrologer. At midday, he begins his job by seeking out people who need to know more about their futures. 

Punctually at midday he opened his bag and spread out his professional equipment, which consisted of a dozen cowrie shells, a square piece of cloth with obscure mystic charts on it, a notebook, and a bundle of palmyra writing. 

In a prophetic like glare, he seeks out customers. They take his mysterious stare as being genuine in that he knows something about the future. 

His forehead was resplendent with sacred ash and vermilion, and his eyes sparkled with a sharp abnormal gleam which was really an outcome of a continual searching look for customers, but which his simple clients took to be a prophetic light and felt comforted. 

The astrologer worked in an area that had poor lighting. At night, he used the light of the neighboring vendors who sold nuts, fruits, and ice cream to name a few things being sold. He did what had he had to do to earn a living.

When a client would sit down, he would allow the client to talk for ten minutes. By this time, the astrologer had enough information to go on. He was a good judge of character. He could read people very well. His job was one of guess work for "he knew no more of what was going to happen to others than he knew what was going to happen to himself the next minute."

The astrologer was shrewd. He understood the problems of life. He understood financial woes and marriage problems. He would guess his way through an encounter with a client.   

He was as much a stranger to the stars as were his innocent customers. Yet he said things which pleased and astonished everyone: that was more a matter of study, practice, and shrewd guesswork. 

No doubt, the astrologer knew what to say after he listened to a client for ten minutes. He understood life's problems and he could guess what was wrong after hearing his client pour his or her heart out. 

As evening approached, the astrologer saw a man passing by and assumed he would be a potential client. This client was Guru Nayak and he would not be played with. He tried to get away from the astrologer, having little faith in his abilities. Guru Nayak lit a cheroot and the astrologer recognized him as a man he had stabbed and left for dead many years ago. Nervously, the astrologer tried to back out the deal the two had made. But Guru Nayak would not hear of it. He insisted that the astrologer would tell him if the man he searched for was alive or dead. Guru Nayak wanted to know where the man was who had stabbed him and left him for dead years ago. 

Finally, the astrologer tells Guru Nayak what he wants to hear. He claims the man who stabbed him is dead. The astrologer knows what to say since he was the man who had stabbed him years ago. Fortunately, Guru Nayak does not recognize the astrologer. He satisfies Guru Nayak and makes extra money off him. 

Guru Nayak leaves, satisfied that his attacker is dead. The astrologer makes it home late. His wife is waiting at the door. He gives her the extra money and shares his story of meeting a man whom he thought he had killed years ago. The astrologer is relieved to know he didn't kill the man. He stretches himself out to sleep a good night's sleep. 

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Please give a character sketch of astrolger in "An Astrologer's Day."

In “An Astrologer’s Day,” by R. K. Narayan, the astrologer is a calm, observant and deceptive character who we find at the end lives in fear every day of his life. This is true of his identity and his occupation. The astrologer makes his living deceiving people by making observations about their attitudes and behavior. If he has to twist the truth to make them believe what he wants them to--it is of no consequence. He sends them away as believers. He lives in fear, however, as we learn at the end of the story, that his past will come back to haunt him because the one person the astrologer cannot deceive is himself. We, as an audience, do not realize that his worst fear has come true until after the fact. This is the one instance in which honesty works better than twisted observations, and he convinces his mysterious visitor that the man he is seeking--the man who fought with him and left him for dead, has himself since died. The astrologer provided the man with vague details that are close enough to the truth that he believes the astrologer. This leaves the astrologer with a new emotion--one of safety, as he has observed that the driving force of revenge on the man who left him for dead has been eliminated, and the stranger will have no other need to ever venture so far from his home again. It is only after the astrologer gets home that we learn how really calm he is as he confesses to his wife that he was the man the stranger was looking for.

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What is the character sketch of the astrologer in the story "An Astrologer's Day"?

The astrologer is an impressive character. As the story says, if he had stayed in his village

...he would have carried on the work of his forefathers namely, tilling the land, living, marrying, and ripening in his cornfield and ancestral home.

But when he was forced to flee the village he was able to develop a whole new personality and survive in a heavily populated urban environment by using his intelligence. The story suggests that many people who live in primitive rural conditions could likewise develop all sorts of hidden talents if they had the opportunities. 

The astrologer lives by his wits. He knows how to put on a show to attract passers-by, and he knows what to tell them, even though he is well aware that he has no mystical knowledge. He has no education and is probably illiterate. But he has "street smarts." 

He had a working analysis of mankind's troubles: marriage, money, and the tangles of human ties. Long practice had sharpened his perception.

He only collects small coins for his consultations, no doubt because most of the people who stroll in the park for recreation have little extra spending money themselves. It is apparent that he must sit for long hours in order to collect enough to keep himself and his family alive from day to day.

...his eyes sparkled with a sharp abnormal gleam which was really an outcome of a continual searching look for customers, but which his simple clients took to be a prophetic light and felt comforted.

Money is of great importance to him in his precarious profession. In addition to his superior intelligence, he is courageous and determined. When he is dealing with Guru Nayak and his life is in imminent danger, the astrologer still insists on haggling over money. He brings every single coin home to his wife so that she can buy food for the family. Evidently he is a devoted husband and father.

"An Astrologer's Day" is a study of the vicissitudes of life and of one type of adaptation. The astrologer would have been an ignorant peasant if he had remained in his village, but the big city forced him to adapt to entirely new conditions, and he managed to find a niche in which to survive, marry, and reproduce. He is a survivor. We can identify with him because we all have to learn to survive in this world by adapting to our environment.

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