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An Astrologer's Day

"An Astrologer's Day" was first published in the newspaper The Hinduand then was made the title story of a collection of short stories which appeared in 1947—the year that India gained its independence. R. K. Narayan's first collection of short stories, entitled Malgudi Days, appeared in 1941. Two other collections followed quickly: Dodu and Other Stories in 1943 and Cyclone and Other Stories in 1944. By the time this collection was published, he was already a well-known novelist, both in India and the West. The endorsement given by the eminent British novelist Graham Greene, who wrote an introduction to Narayan's novel The Financial Expert (1952), made a great deal of difference to his popularity in the West. By the 1950s he was known as one of the three major writers of India, the other two being Raja Rao and Mulk Raj Anand. "An Astrologer's Day" remains a major work in his corpus and displays all the characteristics associated with his writing. Narayan's sense of irony, his deep religious sensibility, his humor, his consciousness of the significance of everyday occurrences, and his belief in a Hindu vision of life are all revealed in this story. An Astrologer's Day Summary "An Astrologer's Day" has a deceptively simple plot, although the full significance of the story becomes evident only after a second or even third reading. Part of the difficulty arises from the fact that the author deliberately avoids markers that would benefit the reader: there is no clear indication where the story occurs or when it does, although it is possible to make an educated guess about both. The story begins almost in medias res (in the middle) and concludes on what appears to be an ambiguous note. But, in fact, the story is a tightly knit one in which all parts fit together. Description The story begins with a description of the astrologer, who is the central character in the story. In minute detail, his appearance, his clothes, and all the materials he uses to ply his trade are described. The astrologer, who is not given a name, comes across as a type, one of the many street vendors in India, who sit under the shade of a tree or a temporary shed and sell anything from vegetables to newspapers. This astrologer belongs to the same category although, given the nature of his trade, there is a need to dress and behave in a particular manner. He does that effectively by giving the impression of a holy man whose special powers enable him to function as an astrologer. Almost casually, the surroundings of the astrologer begin to take shape. While there are no clear references to a particular city, it is likely, since Narayan consistently uses the fictional city of Malgudi, that this story too takes place in Malgudi. In any event, one gets the impression of a somewhat backward city which still retains a measure of its rural

although it is possible to make an educated guess about both. 3) An Astrologer’s Day At a glance:         First Published: 1947 Type of Plot: Social realism Time of Work: Probably the 1920's and 1930's Setting: Southern India Characters: The astrologer. The reference to "municipal lighting" is one of the strategies employed by the author to suggest a sense of the place.character. » 2) "An Astrologer's Day" has a deceptively simple plot.. It is a place poorly lighted in the evening. The story begins almost in medias res (in the middle) and concludes on what appears to be an ambiguous note. His wife.. . Part of the difficulty arises from the fact that the author deliberately avoids markers that would benefit the reader: there is no clear indication where the story occurs or when it does. in fact. he must depend on what light comes from the flickering lamps kept.. In. sweetmeats. such as customers attracted by vendors of nuts. Short fiction Subjects: Fortune-telling or fortune-tellers. The place chosen for his work is generally full of people who pass by or gather there. and other snacks. although the full significance of the story becomes evident only after a second or even third reading. the story is a tightly knit one in which all parts fit.Astrology or astrologers Locales: India The Story The story begins with a description of the place and environment in which the astrologer meets his clients and does his work. Guru Nayak Genres: Social realism.. He begins his work every day at midday in a public place under a large tree that is close to a public park in his town. and because the astrologer has no light of his own. But... India or East Indian people.

he is a charlatan with no special powers other than the keen ability to judge character. a man comes up to the astrologer and demands his fortune after the neighboring flare has been extinguished. managed without lights of their own. some had naked flares stuck on poles. Narayan quietly renders 32 times in this book.” In the story. The customer insists that the astrologer tell him the truth about his life. unnamed city. fearing one thing only to discover another. by the last. It is that sudden outburst of intense light upon a character’s world that Narayan provides again and again. “An Astrologer’s Day” contains an image that is a perfect metaphor for Narayan’s artistry.4) strologer’s Day. and that if he does not. The place was lit up by shop lights. he should return his (the customer's) money. The glimpse gives the astrologer enough information to proceed with his work. like the astrologer’s. over the course of their lifetimes and in the space of hundreds more pages. He is working in a busy. but the customer is adamant. white space was signaling the finish. some were lit up by old cycle lights and one or two. In the course of four and a half pages. and so the astrologer must work under even more compromised circumstances. How could this be? I wondered. who is one of many street vendors. no sense of having been deprived as we feel these days on airplanes. but in the course of which entire lives are powerfully illuminated. and this is the difference between mere description and drama. The astrologer. when we are handed Lilliputian meals in the name of dinner. a vignette at best. Narayan writes. to achieve. “An Astrologer’s Day” erects. Half the enchantment of the place was due to the fact that it did not have the benefit of municipal lighting. . It is what R. along with extra. The astrologer is about to return to his home at the end of the day when he is stopped by an unusually aggressive customer. The resulting effect is what novelists across the globe struggle. except for the fact that he has a distinct aura of holiness and power. “The astrologer transacted his business by the light of a flare which crackled and smoked up above the groundnut heap nearby. in narratives that die down almost as soon as they begin. We’re just getting started. as payment for having lied.” I turned the page once. The plot hinges on a suspenseful action. One or two had hissing gaslights. then just once more—already. I anticipated a sketch. 5) the short story "An Astrologer's Day" begins with a general description of an astrologer. glimpsing his subject’s face in the seconds it takes to light a cheroot. The astrologer works cheek-by-jowl with a series of vendors plying their wares in relative darkness. But in spite of their signature shortness there is nothing scant about Narayan’s stories. complicates. tries to get out of the deal. realizing that he will most likely be exposed. in reality. In the first sentence the title character is a faceless stranger to us. We hold our breath. and the author establishes that.K. and alters a life. he is a man guilty of attempted murder with whom we nevertheless sympathize.

the astrologer recognizes him and tells him about something that happened in the past. he had once thought that he had killed someone. Calling the customer by name. and that if he does not. but the astrologer goes to bed for an untroubled night of sleep. realizing that he will most likely be exposed. he had once thought that he had killed someone. he is a charlatan with no special powers other than the keen ability to judge character. the perpetrator is dead. He is working in a busy. The story takes an unexpected turn. the astrologer recounts how the customer had once been stabbed and left for dead. the astrologer recognizes him and tells him about something that happened in the past. the short story "An Astrologer's Day" begins with a general description of an astrologer. An Astrologer’s Day . and anyway. but had been saved by a bystander. The wife is mystified. Calling the customer by name. and the author establishes that. The customer. but had been saved by a bystander. He tells her that he has been relieved of a great load. and anyway. unnamed city. but the customer is adamant. his wife asks about his day. when. he should return his (the customer's) money. the perpetrator is dead. along with extra. not recognizing the astrologer. not recognizing the astrologer. When the astrologer goes home. when. tries to get out of the deal. unbeknownst to the customer. The astrologer tells the customer that he must stop looking for the man who stabbed him so long ago. is impressed that he should know about his past. who is one of many street vendors. the astrologer recounts how the customer had once been stabbed and left for dead. The astrologer. in reality. unbeknownst to the customer. The customer insists that the astrologer tell him the truth about his life. because to do so would be dangerous. When the astrologer goes home. his wife asks about his day. is impressed that he should know about his past. The astrologer tells the customer that he must stop looking for the man who stabbed him so long ago.The story takes an unexpected turn. except for the fact that he has a distinct aura of holiness and power. but the astrologer goes to bed for an untroubled night of sleep. The astrologer is about to return to his home at the end of the day when he is stopped by an unusually aggressive customer. because to do so would be dangerous. as payment for having lied. He tells her that he has been relieved of a great load. but had today discovered that the victim was well and very much alive. The customer. but had today discovered that the victim was well and very much alive. The wfe is mystified.