An Astrologer’s Day
Exercise: Question & Answers
Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.
a. How does the astrologer’s appearance help him attract customers? How does he help the customers satisfy their needs?
→ The astrologer of this story is dressed in such a way that everyone falls in his trap and believes him to be a legit fortune teller. He wears a saffron turban along with holy ash and vermilion glisten on his forehead. He’s so well- presented that he’s a crowd-pleaser. His customers believe his eyes have a prophetic light. He assists customers in meeting their needs by analysing issues such as marriage, money, and so on.
b. How do you characterise the astrologer’s attitude toward the stranger?
→ The astrologer notices the stranger in front of him and considers him a possible customer.
c. What details does the astrologer give the stranger about his past?
→ The astrologer tells the stranger that he was stabbed with a knife and pushed to death, but that some locals saw him and saved him.
d. Why does he advise the stranger to go home immediately?
→ He advises the stranger to go home because his revenge is then worthless as the culprit who stabbed him with a knife had already died in an accident and there is no point in staying there in search of that person and also to avoid an impending danger. In reality, he advises him in order to avoid harm to himself because he was the one who did all that action in the past.
e. What is your reaction to the conversation between the astrologer and his wife?
→ I am both satisfied and astonished with their conversation. I was astonished to know the astrologer’s reality and his past and satisfied to know that he was not guilty of murder. I am happy that the astrologer’s whole collection of coins is just enough to keep them alive for the next day because he earns some more cash that day. The main thing is that the Astrologer was able to get rid of his embarrassment.
Reference to the context
a. Suspense is the feeling of anticipation you may have as you read. In this story, what details contributed to your feelings of suspense and surprise? Explain.
→ In my case, concerns about the astrologer’s own and past lives create suspense in the story. The readers are horrified to discover at the end of the story that the astrologer was the one who stabbed the stranger and left him to die while intoxicated when he was a young guy. In reality, the astrologer was not supposed to be an astrologer by his will. He left his town without any previous planning. This piques the reader’s curiosity in why he broke the ancestral cycle and had to leave his home so abruptly. The stranger’s encounter with the astrologer adds more suspense in the story.
b. Analyze the conflicts in “An Astrologer’s Day.” Explain how the conflicts are resolved and what they reveal about the characters involved in the story.
→ Conflict occurs in the story when the stranger challenges the astrologer to specifically answer his questions when the astrologer has packed his items and is prepared to go home. The story becomes tense as the stranger was not going to be convinced with all his usual way of dealing with customers. The astrologer feels uneasy as the stranger lights up his cheroot and sees his face through the light, so he declines the challenge for unknown reasons.
He is compelled to say something to the stranger in order to appease him. The astrologer seemed to know everything about Guru Nayak’s background, even his name. The stranger is surprised by the astrologer’s description of his previous life and decides to abandon his search for an adversary who claims to have been crushed by a truck. However, this revelation was only made possible by reading between the lines of an astrologer’s chat with his wife, in which it was revealed that the astrologer himself had attempted to assassinate Guru Nayak while drunk.
c. “All right. I will speak. But will you give me a rupee if what I say is convincing? Otherwise I will not open my mouth, and you may do what you like.”
i. Who’s that speaker?
→ The speaker is the astrologer.
ii. Who does he talk to?
→ He’s talking to Nayak Guru.
iii. What does “open my mouth” mean?
→ Open Lips means to state anything convincing regarding the stranger.
d. Description helps readers visualize what is happening in a story. What details and techniques does the author use to describe the astrologer?
→ Author has given details to each and every scene, to make them more visually appealing to the readers to develop the feeling of suspense and enjoyment in this story. The story takes place in Town Hall Park late at night. The reader learns that the astrologer usually spends his time under the tamarind tree about noon. The use of dialogue throughout the story is intended to offer a variety of viewpoints while maintaining the narrator’s overall authority.
In a densely populated urban setting, the astrologer is able to establish a new identity and live via his brain. He knows how to showcase and fascinate people, despite the fact that he has no spiritual knowledge. He and his family are alive because of his knowledge. Despite his intelligence, he is bold and driven. He’s a loving spouse and father. Such descriptions and micro details assist readers like us to make a more familiar image of the astrologer.
e. Irony is a contrast between appearances and reality. What is ironic about Guru Nayak’s meeting with the astrologer?
→ The encounter with the astrologer and Guru Nayak is the irony of the story. He seeks the astrologer’s assistance in locating the man who tried to kill him while he was in the village some years ago. When the astrologer learns about the man, he becomes quite uncomfortable. Guru Nayak, after seeing his face recognized him and he knew that himself was the culprit of his attempt of murder.
The astrologer, on the other hand, skillfully misinforms him. He makes Guru Nayak wait and haggle for money. Finally, he holds Guru Nayak in his hand when he addresses the almighty by name and tells him of the happenings in the village. Finally, hearing the (guilty) astrologer’s predictions makes Guru Nayak happy. In this scene, both men are happy.
So, as the definition states, the appearances and reality of the astrologer serve as a major irony in this story.
f. How does the astrologer’s manner of dress suit his character?
→ The astrologer is the story’s lead character. The clothes he wears and the way he seems fit his character well, making him the centre of attention. He wears a saffron turban around his head and vermilion ash glistens on his forehead. He has a sharp mind with his own set of tricks for getting the job done. He’s got a good grasp of humanity’s issues which help him guess the people’s fortune despite his total lack of astrology. Even people believe him to be a legit astrologer.
Reference beyond the text
a. The astrologer attracts many customers in the street who are pleased and astonished by what he tells them. What does this tell you about the people of the town walking in the street?
→ The main character of this story is an astrologer who misuses the general tendency of human beings to be curious about their future. His saffron-colored hat, vermilion ash on forehead and attire help him to attract customers. His astrological equipment, clothes, and tricky predictions are all he has to rely on to run his business. The way he’s dressed makes him seem to be a skilled astrologer, which pleases his customers. He’s an apparent expert astrologer who knows a lot about the subject matters that take place in people’s lives. This tells that the people of the town are very curious to know about their future who will blindly follow and believe in prophecies without even trying to know the reality.
b. Why do most people want to know their future? Do you think astrologers can really help them know their future?
→ Most people would want to know what their future holds because they are concerned about a variety of things, including their happiness, their ability to cope with challenges, study, marriage, relationships and their safety. True astrologers who have a thorough knowledge of astrology can help their clients know about their future.
c. Is astrology a good practice of fortune telling or is it just a blind faith? Give reasons.
→ The use of astrology as a tool for fortune telling is actually true when an astrologer really holds the expert knowledge of planets and all astrology studies. Astrology states that the position of planets of a specific individual actually have some impact on what they have to endure with, what their nature is and what their future will be. It is said to account for the majority of human activities. In Eastern civilizations, most people practise or believe in astrology to discover the appropriate answers to their issues. In many instances, astrological predictions are also shown to be accurate. So, I would not prefer to call it a blind faith.
An Astrologer’s day is a mystery and satirical story written by R.K. Narayan. It is the story of a man who didn’t know anything about astrology or reading palms. He was a criminal who was pretending to be an astrologer who left his village and went to a far town after stabbing and pushing a young man into a well. He pretended to be an astrologer to get away from the police and make a living.
The Astrologer used to sit beneath a large tree with his instruments of the profession, such as shells, calendars, and a journal. To demonstrate knowledge and spiritual power, he used to put on clothes to look like a holy man. He put holy ash and vermilion on his forehead and wore a turban that was the color of saffron. So, he pretended to be a great palm reader, even though he never wanted to be an astrologer. He became a palm reader by accident. He had no choice but to go into this line of work. The astrologer had established his shop in a crowded market amid vendors selling low-quality food.
The astrologer’s spiritual quality was heightened by the marketplace’s different store lights. He didn’t have his own light, so he had to rely on the other sellers’. He had no desire to become an astrologer, but he was forced to leave his family home and go far away without a plan or money. He was, nevertheless, a believable holy man, offering imprecise but soothing guidance to people in the market based on his own insights into human issues. He was an expert in his field, and he always told people what they wanted to hear. He didn’t know much about astrology, but he could make a decent living.
Guru Nayak showed up one day just as he was about to gather his goods and go. Neither of them could see much of the other’s face in the dim light. The astrologer, seeing a chance for another customer, asked the visitor to sit and talk. The visitor agreed, but he was suspicious about the astrologer. He assured the astrologer that he couldn’t provide him any useful or accurate information. The astrologer agreed after they haggled over the price (Guru Nayak would pay the astrologer eight annas if he was pleased and should refund the money twice if he wasn’t).
The astrologer was terrified when Guru Nayak lit the cigarette and saw his face. He attempted to back out of the deal, but Guru Nayak wouldn’t allow him. Guru Nayak learned that the astrologer had been stabbed in the chest and left for dead. Guru Nayak was shocked by the astrologer’s recognition of his name. He inquired of the astrologer as to where he might locate the assassin. He was murdered by a vehicle some months ago, according to the astrologer. Guru Nayak was irritated by this, but he was pleased that the assassin had died horribly and so he handed over the money.
As he laid down to sleep at home, the astrologer told his wife about a time when he stabbed a guy and left him for dead, forcing him to abandon his home and start a new life as a fake astrologer. He had believed himself to be a murderer, yet the guy was still alive. Then he went to sleep with a smile on his face.