He also has problems with the neighboring vendors. This is an example of external conflict against society and its struggles. The Astrologer finally has a chance to resolve this conflict when Guru Nayak trusts him enough to pay for a reading.
After giving the reading, the Astrologer goes home with the money and his wife overjoyed says "I can buy some jaggery and coconut tomorrow Another conflict involves Guru Nayak, the other main character in this story. Nayak wants to find out who attacked him and get revenge against the person. This is an external conflict although sometimes when the emotions get to him, it might turn internal.
This conflict is resolved when the Astrologer says, "He died four months ago in a far-off town. An old woman led him up there early in the morning, seated him at the gate, and came up again at midday with some food, gathered his coins, and took him home at night. The dog was sleeping near by. He was stirred by the smell of food. He got up, came out of his shelter, and stood before the blind man, wagging his tail and gazing expectantly at the bowl, as he was eating his sparse meal.
The blind man swept his arms about and asked : " Who is there? Come with me " He threw a handful of food which the dog ate gratefully. It was perhaps an auspicious moment for starting a friendship. In course of time observing him, the dog understood that the passers-by must give a coin, and whoever went away without dropping a coin was chased by the dog ; he tugged the edge of their clothes by his teeth and pulled them back to the old man at the gate and let go only after something was dropped in his bowl.
Among those who frequented this place was a village urchin, who had the mischief of a devil in him. He liked to tease the blind man by calling him names and by trying to pick up the coins in his bowl. The blind man helplessly shouted and cried and whirled his staff. On Thursdays this boy appeared at the gate, carrying on his head a basket loaded with cucumber or plantain. Every Thursday afternoon it was a crisis in the blind man's life. A seller of bright coloured but doubtful perfumes with his wares mounted on a wheeled platform, a man who spread out cheap story-books on a gunny sack, another man who carried coloured ribbons on an elaborate frame these were the people who usually gathered under the same arch, On a Thursday when the young man appeared at the Eastern gate one of them remarked, " Blind fellow!
Here comes your scourge " "Oh, God, is this Thursday? He swept his arms about and called : " Dog, dog, come here, where are you?
Still pretending you have no eyes. If you are really blind, you should not know this either " He stopped, his hand moving towards the bowl. The dog sprang on him and snapped his jaws on wrist. The boy extricated his hand and ran for his life. The dog bounded up behind him and chased him out of the market. One evening at the usual time the old woman failed to turn up, and the blind man waited at the gate, worrying as the evening grew into night.
As he sat fretting there, a neighbour came up and said : " Sami, don't wait for the old woman. She will not come again. She died this afternoon " The blind man lost the only home he had, and the only person who cared for him in this world. The ribbon-vendor suggested : " Here, take this white tape " He held a length of the white cord which he had been selling " I will give this to you free of cost.
Tie it to the dog and let him lead you about if he is really so fond of you " Life for the dog took a new turn now. He came to take the place of the old woman. He lost his freedom completely. His world came to be circumscribed by the limits of the white cord which the ribbon-vendor had spared.
He had to forget wholesale all his old life all his old haunts. He simply had to stay on for ever at the end of that string. He ceased to take notice of other dogs, even if they came up and growled at his side. He lost his own orbit of move- ment and contact with his fellow-creatures. To the extent of this loss his master gained. He moved about as he had never moved in his life. All day he was on his legs, led by the dog. With the staff in one hand and the dog-lead in the other he moved out of his home a corner in a choultry veranda a few yards off the market : he had moved in there after the old woman's death.
He started out early in the day.
- The Astrologer.
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He found that he could treble his income by moving about instead of staying in one place. He moved down the choultry street, and wherever he heard people's voices he stopped and held out his hands for alms.
Critical Appreciation of the short story ‘An Astrologer’s Day by R.K.Narayan’
Shops, schools, hospitals, hotels he left nothing out. He gave a tug when he wanted the dog to stop, and shouted like a bullock-driver when he wanted him to move on. The dog protected his feet from going into pits, or stumping against steps or stones, and took him up inch by inch on safe ground and steps. For this sight people gave coins and helped him. Children gathered round him and gave him things to eat.
A dog is essentially an active creature who punctuates his hectic rounds with well-defined periods of rest.
An astrologers' day
But now this dog henceforth to be known as Tiger had lost all rest. He had rest only when the old man sat down somewhere. At night the old man slept with the cord turned around his finger. Sometimes his legs refused to move. But if he slowed down even slightly his master goaded him on fiercely with his staff. The dog whined and groaned under this thrust. Don't I give you your food? You want to loaf, do you? The dog lumbered up and down and round and round the market-place on slow steps, tied down to the blind tyrant.
Long after the traffic at the market ceased, you could hear the night stabbed by the far-off wail of the tired dog. It lost its original appearance. As months rolled on, bones stuck up at his haunches and ribs were reliefed through his fading coat. The ribbon-seller, the novel-vendor and the perfumer observed it one evening, when business was slack, and held a conference among themselves : "It rends my heart to see that poor dog slaving.
Can't we do something? He has become a very devil for money " At this point the perfumer's eyes caught the scissors dangling from the ribbon-rack. The blind man was passing in front of the Eastern gate. The dog was straining the lead. There was a piece of bone lying on the way and the dog was straining to pick it up. The lead became taut and hurt the blind man's hand, and he tugged the string and kicked till the dog howled.
It howled, but could not pass the bone lightly ; it tried to make another dash for it. The blind man was heaping curses on it. The dog bounced off and picked up the bone. The blind man stopped dead where he stood, with the other half of the string dangling in his hand. Where are you? The perfumer moved away quietly, muttering : " You heartless devil!
You will never get at him again! He has his freedom! He nosed about the ditches happily, hurled himself on other dogs, and ran round and round the fountain in the market-square barking, his eyes sparkling with joy. He returned to his favourite haunts and hung about the butcher's shop, tea-stall, and the bakery.
The ribbon-vendor and his two friends stood at the market gate and enjoyed the sight immensely as the blind man struggled to find his way about. He stood rooted to the spot waving his stick ; he felt as if he were hanging in mid-air. He was wailing. Where is my dog? Won't someone give him back to me? I will murder it when I get at it again! However, the old man struggled through and with the help of someone found his way back to his corner in the choultry veranda and sank down on his gunnysack bed, half faint with the strain of his journey.
He was not seen for ten days, fifteen days and twenty days. Nor was the dog seen anywhere. They commented among themselves. They saw him again coming up the pavement led by the dog. He ran up and said : " Where have you been all these days? I should have died in a day or two, confined to my corner, no food, not an anna to earn imprisoned in my corner.