An Astrologer's Day by R.K. Narayan | Summary & Questions and Answers Class 11 by Suraj Bhatt

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An Astrologer's Day by R.K. Narayan | Summary & Questions and Answers Class 11 by Suraj Bhatt
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An Astrologer's Day by R.K. Narayan Class 11 Summary & Questions and Answers


An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan


MAIN INTRO FOR ANSWERS

Note: Add this introduction to your answers to the exam.

This thriller and suspense short story 'An Astrologer's Day' was written by R. K. Narayan, an Indian writer. This story was published in 1947 by Indian Thought Publications. This story is about a fake astrologer and his day's description. In the story, we find various themes related to human nature, such as hypocrisy, shrewdness, revengeful nature, selfishness etc.



Table of Contents



GLOSSARY

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan

cheroot (n.): a cigar cut square at both ends

jutka (n.): a two-wheeled, horse-drawn vehicle

disgorge (v.): to give up or hand over

cowrie (n.): a small snail commonly found in warm, shallow waters of the Pacific and 
Indian Oceans

impetuous (adj.): done quickly without thought; hasty

incantation (n.): words spoken in a magic spell or charm

jaggery (n.): solid dark brown sugar made from sugarcane

pyol (n.): a low bench

palmyra (n.): paper made from the leaves of the palmyra tree

paraphernalia (n.): things used in a particular activity; equipment

piqued (adj.): aroused in anger or resentment; offended

saffron (n.): an orange-yellow colour

vociferousness (n.): noisy outcrying


AUTHOR

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan

Name: R. K. Narayan

Full Name: Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanswami

Nationality: Indian

Date of Birth: October 10, 1906

Birth Place: Madras (Now Chennai Tamilnadu, India

Death: May 13, 2001, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India (Aged 94)

Genre: Fiction, Mythology, Non-Fiction

He was a novelist, poet and short story writer.

He had been awarded Padma Bhusan, Padma Vibhushan, Sahitya Academy Award

HIS NOTABLE WORKS

▪︎   Malgudi Days

▪︎   The Bachelor of Arts

▪︎   The English Teacher


ABOUT STORY

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan

This thriller and suspense short story, "An Astrologer's Day," by R. K. Narayan, was published in 1947 by Indian Thought Publications. It was the titular (related to the title) story of Narayan's fourth collection of short stories. It was the very first chapter of the world-famous collection of stories "Malgudi Days," which was later telecasted on television in 2006.


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This ironic and witty short story describes a day in the life of an ordinary but fake astrologer.

The main character in this story is an astrologer who is unnamed. He earns his livelihood by making prophecies or selling cosmic insights to gullible villagers, though he does not know the cosmos or actual spiritual insights.

This story has presented a very typical situation for the astrologer, where he faces his past life's story. Here, he has become successful in saving his life through his proper use of the mind.


THEMES

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan

Here in this story, we find various themes related to human nature, such as hypocrisy, shrewdness, revengeful nature, and selfishness.

We find the theme of fate in the story too.


MORAL

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan

▪︎   Wisdom and quick thinking are more important than credibility or good behaviour because the witty but dishonest astrologer comes out on top at the end of the story.

▪︎   We should be responsible for what we have done and don’t run away from our mistakes.


SETTING

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan

In the setting of the story, Town Hall Park has been presented. The place is used by various vendors. The story has been presented from midday until night (the astrologer opened his profession from morning until night).


CHARACTERS

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan

There are three characters in the story.


The Astrologer

The astrologer is the main character in the story. He is the unnamed protagonist of the story. The astrologer is not truly an astrologer but a con man. He sets up shop each day beneath a tamarind tree in a market. He prepares himself and earns through making prophecies or selling cosmic insights to gullible villagers, though he does not know the cosmos or actual spiritual insights.

He is defined as lying, irresponsible, and unearthly.


Guru Nayak

Guru Nayak is another main character in the story. He is the man whom the astrologer tried to murder several years ago. He comes to Astrologer by chance during the evening. He is unable to recognise the astrologer, though he passes his time with him in conversation. He is in search of the culprit who once stabbed him and let him die in the well.

He is defined as a stranger, stubborn, curious, and ambitious.


The Astrologer’s Wife

The astronomer's wife is only introduced at the end of the story. She seems quite pleased when her husband brings home more money than usual from his day’s work. At the same time, she is shocked to hear about her husband's past story.

She is defined as patient and wise.


DETAILED SUMMARY

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan

DESCRIPTION OF THE ASTROLOGER AND HIS BUSINESS

According to the writer, an astrologer always opened his astrology business at midday. He used to sit and run his business under a tamarind tree on Town Hall Road.

That road led to Town Hall Park, which was quite good for his business to lure his customers. The road was amply crowded with different people with different trades and professions. The groundnut vendor also used to sit beside him. The gaslight of the groundnut vendor enabled the astrologer to run his business even after the sunset. The astrologer was quite skilled at analysing human nature and psychology.

When he started his business at midday, he decorated his business of astrology by making various preparations. He took out his professional tools, like square cloth pieces, cowries shells, charts, Palmyra writings, etc., from his bag. He also dressed typically like an astrologer to attract customers. He put sacred ash and vermilion on his forehead. Due to his makeup, his forehead seemed quite bright. He placed a saffron turban on his head. Thus, the astrologer presented himself perfectly to attract his customers.

The astrologer was a shrewd person who hardly had any knowledge of astrology. He just made guesses to satisfy his customers. According to him, he left his village because he didn't want to continue the traditional occupation of his forefathers, i.e., farming. He never had any plans to return to his native village. He had to work so hard to earn his wages using his smart mind. He gave his daytime earnings to his wife in the evening.


MAIN EVENT IN THE STORY

One day, when the groundnut vendor blew out his gaslight, the astrologer also started closing his shop. While packing up his professional tools, he saw a man standing in front of him. He thought of the man as his prospective customer. When the astrologer invited him, the man challenged the astrologer and his astrology science. The man made a bet with the astrologer. He provided an anna to the astrologer and demanded a satisfactory answer to his question. He even added that if he didn't answer satisfactorily, he would have to return his anna with interest. The astrologer denied saying that he charged three pies per question's answer. He demanded a charge of five rupees for a satisfactory answer. But, finally, he demanded eight annas for a satisfactory answer. The man became ready to pay up. But he put up a condition in front of an astrologer. According to him, if the astrologer answered his question satisfactorily, he would provide him with eight annas. But if he failed to satisfy him with his answer, he would have to return double the amount, i.e., sixteen annas. The bet was made. The astrologer prayed to heaven. A bit later, when the man lit up his cheroot, the astrologer caught a glimpse of his face. He denied the challenge and asked the man to let him go. But the man held him tight on his wrist. The astrologer trembled in fear. He accepted the challenge unwillingly. The astrologer started telling him about a woman, but the man stopped him, being unsatisfied. The man had a single question: whether he would get what he was searching for. The man promised the astrologer to pay him a rupee after getting a satisfactory answer. The astrologer again prayed a few incantations before replying. The astrologer revealed the incident involving a man in the past. According to him, the man had been attacked by an unknown person with a knife in his chest. The man became excited to hear the astrologer's words. In the past, he had been attacked with a knife. After he got wounded, he was thrown into a well nearby to die. A passerby saw and rescued him. The man wanted to know about the culprit's details from the astrologer so that he could take revenge. But the astrologer informed me about the culprit's death four months ago in a faraway town. The man was disappointed to hear this. The astrologer even identified the name of the man before him as Guru Nayak. He told the man that his village was located in the north, and it took two days' journey to reach there. He warned him to go back home and never travel south again. He asked him to return to his hometown immediately. He told the man that he might get into trouble if he left his home again. The man wanted to know the cause behind the culprit's death. The astrologer satisfied him by informing him that the culprit was crushed under a truck. The man left after giving the astrologer a handful of coins. The astrologer also packed his belongings and went home. The astrologer reached home quite late. His wife was worried about him. The astrologer flung the coins at his wife to count. There were altogether twelve and a half annas. She was so happy to see that amount. She planned to buy jaggery and coconut for their child, who had been demanding sweets for a long time. However, the astrologer looked worried and was not happy, like his wife. He was angry with Guru Nayak, who promised to give him a rupee but provided him only twelve and a half annas. After dinner, he shared the secret of his life with his wife. He said that the great burden of his life was gone that day. He always felt that he had killed Guru Nayak. So the astrologer had run away from his native village due to the fear of being accused of murder. He settled in Malgudi, married, and decided that he would never return to his native village. The man who tried to kill Guru Nayak was the astrologer himself. So he was able to make accurate predictions about him, though he hardly knew astrology. The astrologer confessed to his wife that, in his youth, he was in bad company with Guru Nayak. He drank, gambled, and quarrelled badly one day. In that fight, he almost killed Guru Nayak.


SHORT SUMMARY

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan

This is a short story. An Astrologer's Day has been written by renowned Indian writer R. K. Narayan. This story has presented a fine blend of suspense and surprise. This story was published in the year 1947. This story has a set of Malgudi, a town near South India, Madras.

The main character of this story is an astrologer who is unnamed. This story begins with the description of this astrologer, who sits under a tamarind tree on Town Hall Road and sells prophecies to gullible people. He finely decorates his business, placing cowry shells, mystic astrological charts, palmyra writings, etc. He presents himself perfectly, using sacred ash and vermilion on his forehead. His dress and saffron turban present him as a wise astrologer. He is a fake astrologer in reality who is quite good at making shrewd calculations about people. He works hard in his guesswork to satisfy his customers.


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One day, he meets Guru Nayak in the evening. Guru Nayak demands a satisfactory answer from the astrologer. Guru Nayak puts up a bet and promises to provide one rupee to the astrologer. Guru Nayak doesn't recognise the astrologer in the evening. The astrologer tells Guru Nayak various facts. He relates his past incident, his name and address, and the death of the culprit. Finally, the astrologer advises him to return to his hometown immediately for his safety. The astrologer gets twelve and a half annas from Guru Nayak. At home, the astrologer reveals his past events to his wife. The astrologer himself had attacked Guru Nayak in the past. He has spent many years away from his native village due to the fear of murder. But, after convincing Guru Nayak, he feels quite good to be free from the burden of his life.


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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

An Astrologer's Day by R. K. Narayan


BEFORE READING

a. Have you ever shown your palm to a fortune-teller? Do you believe in fortune-telling?

Answer:

Yes, I have shown my palm to a fortune teller. Yes, I believe in fortune-telling. I'm too devoted to religious beliefs; that's why I believe in fortune-telling.


b. Why do you think people want to know their futures?

Answer:

I think people want to know their future because they want to know about their luck, upcoming good events, and even difficulties.


UNDERSTANDING THE TEXT

a. How does the astrologer’s appearance help him attract customers? How does he help the customers satisfy their needs?

Answer:

The astrologer here in this short story is a shrewd person. He always makes his fine preparations before starting his business. He decorates his business by placing various tools of astrology, such as cowries shells, mystic astrological charts, palmyra writings, etc., on his square piece of cloth. He puts sacred ash and vermilion on his forehead and a saffron turban on his head. His eyes always seem sparkling due to the fine makeup on his face. His eyes are continuously searching for his customers. He dresses just like an astrologer. His appearance helps him to present himself as a professional astrologer. Due to his attractive appearance, most of the customers believe him and come to him to hear his prophecies. He helps his customers by making possible guesses related to their past, present, and future lives, relationships, marriage, money, troubles, etc. He listens to the problems of his customers for ten minutes. He gets many clues within five minutes and asks them questions. He contemplates the issues and makes guesses. Due to his long-time practice and experience, he always tries his best to make matching guesses and helps his customers satisfy their needs.


b. How do you characterise the astrologer’s attitude toward the stranger?

Answer:

Here, the astrologer's business of astrology provides him with wages to run his family smoothly. He starts his business at midday and works so hard, using his smart mind to earn money. His presentation is highly appreciated. He makes his guesswork perfect to satisfy his customers. When he sees the stranger standing in front of him, he thinks of him as his prospective customer. During closing time, he invites him instead of moving to his house. This shows his greedy attitude. The way he bargains with the stranger has proven his money-minded concept. He tries his best to convince the stranger for the sake of money. He doesn't know about astrology, but he tries to satisfy the stranger through his guesswork for the sake of money only. Next, his acts of convincing the stranger also show his fake attitude. He advises the stranger to move to his hometown immediately. This shows his shrewdness and hypocrisy in his attitude.


c. What details does the astrologer give the stranger about his past? 

Answer:

The astrologer gives the stranger various shocking past events' details of his life. He tells the stranger various things accurately because he has a chance to see his face. The astrologer recognises him when the stranger lights up his cheroot. Due to the darkness as well as his makeup, Guru Nayak isn't able to recognise the astrologer. The astrologer tells him about his past event, saying that he had been attacked by an unknown person with a knife on his chest. He tells him about his pitiable condition inside the well. He even tells him his name and address. He informs him about Culpri's death four months ago. Finally, the astrologer advises him very tactfully to move to his hometown immediately for the safety of his life.


d. Why does he advise the stranger to go home immediately?

Answer:

The astrologer is a very clever person in his profession. In his past, he had even involved himself in the criminal act. The stranger whom he meets during the evening is a criminal named Guru Nayak. When the astrologer realises the person is Guru Nayak, he tries to erase his mental burden. The astrologer himself was the person who had tried to kill Guru Nayak in the past. Seeing Guru Nayak in Malgudi, he trembles with fear. When he knows Guru Nayak's intentions, he tries his best to move him back to the north. He doesn't want to face Guru Nayak in his life again. He wants to live a fearless life in Malgudi. He tells him about possible dangers in a stranger's life and advises him to go home immediately.


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e. What is your reaction to the conversation between the astrologer and his wife?

Answer:

I feel happy to know about the end of the astrologer's mental burden on his life through their conversation. The astrologer felt guilty for murdering Guru Nayak. Due to the fear, he had even left his village and settled his life in Malgudi. But he found Guru Nayak alive. He realised that he wasn't the murderer. He even advised him not to return to the south. The astrologer finally got rid of his terrible burden. Next, I feel a little upset to know about their pitiable economic status. To get twelve and a half annas, the astrologer's wife planned to buy jaggery and coconut to prepare sweets for their daughter. Their daughter had been demanding sweets for a long time. This shows the obligation of the family when a single daughter's simple wish remained pending for a long time due to a lack of money.


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.

Answer:

This short story is a fine blend of suspense and surprise. The story starts with a description of the astrologer and his business. When the stranger appears during the evening in front of the astrologer, the astrologer thinks of him as his prospective customer. They place a bet on a satisfactory answer. The astrologer provides him with various facts related to his life during his prophecies. He tells him about his past events, his name, and his address accurately. Here, these accurate details have created feelings of suspense for me. The stranger becomes too excited and satisfied, but I feel a kind of suspense. A question arises in my mind: "How did he answer accurately?" This particular suspense turns into a surprise when the astrologer relates his past story's details to his wife after dinner. Here, I find the answer to my feelings of suspense. Astrologer's past story's details have solved the mystery of suspense and created surprises for me as well as all the readers.


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.

Answer:

The conflicts that we find here in this story are related to the astrologer and the man. Here, the astrologer has a hidden burden in his life. He thinks himself guilty of murdering Guru Nayak many years ago. His inner conflict is seen here. His inner conflict is resolved when he meets Guru Nayak alive in front of his eyes. He feels happy and satisfied to realise that he isn't a murderer. He overcomes his hidden conflict. He gets benefit from Guru Nayak too by satisfying him. He becomes successful to erase his fear. The next conflict is seen within the man. He wants to find the culprit and take revenge. After his recovery, he keeps searching for the culprit. His conflict is resolved when he gets information about the death of the culprit through an astrologer. He is sent back with satisfaction. Their conflicts reveal that both of them are criminals. Both of them had a very bad past. Both of them are victims of their conflicts. The astrologer had left his village and spent his life in Malgudi with the mental burden of murdering Guru Nayak. On the other hand, Guru Nayak also suffered a lot due to the conflict. He kept on searching for the culprit after his incident.


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 is the speaker?

Answer:

The speaker is the astrologer himself.


ii. Who is he speaking to?

Answer:

He is speaking to Guru Nayak.


iii. What does the expression ‘open my mouth’ mean?

Answer:

The expression 'open my mouth' means revelation through fortune-telling related to Guru Nayak's queries. 


d. Description helps readers visualize what is happening in a story. What details and techniques does the author use to describe the astrologer?

Answer:

The author of this story uses various details and narrative techniques to describe the main character, who is an astrologer. From the beginning to the end, the author keeps on presenting this story using various details through his narration. He talks about the astrologer's background, his everyday business, his shrewd calculations with his customers, his preparations before business, his meeting with Guru Nayak, and his conversation with his wife. The author has presented every detail of an astrologer, creating suspense and surprises through his narrative technique.


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e. Irony is a contrast between appearances and reality. What is ironic about Guru Nayak’s meeting with the astrologer?

Answer:

The meeting of Guru Nayak and the astrologer seems quite ironic. Here, we find Guru Nayak asking the astrologer about the culprit, who once stabbed him with a knife in the chest. He doesn't know the culprit himself is the astrologer. Due to the darkness and the astrologer's get-up, Guru Nayak is unable to recognise him. The lifelong burden for the astrologer is the murder of Guru Nayak. He feels quite surprised to find Guru Nayak alive. The information about the culprit makes Guru Nayak feel satisfied. The shrewdness of the astrologer is very ironic. Here, the victim comes to the culprit to find the right solution. Finally, Guru Nayak feels good to hear the prophecies of the astrologer (culprit). Here, both characters feel good at last.


f. How does the astrologer’s manner of dress suit his character?

Answer:

The main character here in this story is an astrologer. His business of astrology depends on his astrological tools, his dressing sense, and his guesswork. His manner of dress suits his character. He is quite clever at his business of astrology. As an astrologer, he dresses perfectly like an astrologer. His saffron turban and his dress help him a lot to attract his customers. He carefully presents himself so that his customers can believe him. Due to his dressing sense, his clients think of him as a wise 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?

Answer:

The main character here in this story is an astrologer. His business of astrology depends on his astrological tools, his dressing sense, and his guesswork. His manner of dress suits his character. He is quite clever at his business of astrology. As an astrologer, he dresses perfectly like an astrologer. His saffron turban and his dress help him a lot to attract his customers. He carefully presents himself so that his customers can believe him. Due to his dressing sense, his clients think of him as a wise astrologer.


b. Why do most people want to know their future? Do you think astrologers can help them know their future?

Answer:

Most people want to know their future because they are curious about their luck, upcoming problems, and security. Yes, real astrologers who have real knowledge of astrology can help them know their future.


c. Is astrology a good practice of fortune-telling or is it just blind faith? Give reasons.

Answer:

Yes, astrology is a good practice for fortune-telling. In Eastern societies, most people practice and believe in fortune-telling. Astrology is supposed to be the best part of human life. The practice of astrology is seen in various events in life. People believe in astrology in eastern societies. People find out the right solutions to their problems through astrology. Astrological prophecies turn out to be right in many cases.



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