His narratives highlight social context and provide a feel for his characters through R. He has been compared to William Faulkner, who also created a fictional town that stood for reality, brought out the humor and energy of ordinary life and displayed compassionate humanism in his writing. Narayan's short story writing style has been compared to that of Guy de Maupassant as they both have an ability to compress the narrative without losing out on elements of the story.
With this book, Narayan created Malgudi, a town that creatively reproduced the social sphere of the country; while it ignored the limits imposed by colonial rule. Malgudi also grew with the various socio-political changes of British and post-independence India. He also published two collections of short stories: Malgudi Days , a revised edition including the original book and some other stories and Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories, a new collection.
Narayan's writing style was simple and unpretentious with a natural element of humor about it.
An Astrologer's Day Characters
It focused on ordinary people, reminding the reader of next-door neighbors, cousins and thereby providing a greater ability to relate to the topic. Unlike his national contemporaries, he was able to write about the intricacies of Indian society without having to modify his characteristic simplicity to conform to trends and fashions in fiction writing. He also employed the use of nuanced dialogic prose with gentle Tamil overtones based on the nature of his characters.
Critics have considered Narayan to be the Indian Chekhov, due to the similarities in their writings, the simplicity and the gentle beauty and humor in tragic situations. Greene considered Narayan to be more similar to Chekhov than any Indian writer. According to Pulitzer Prize winner, Jhumpa Lahiri, Narayan's short stories have the same captivating feeling as his novels, with most of them less than ten pages long, and taking about as many minutes to read.
She adds that between the title sentence and the end, Narayan provides the reader something novelists struggle to achieve in hundreds more pages: a complete insight to the lives of his characters. These characteristics and abilities led Lahiri to classify him as belonging to the pantheon of short-story geniuses that include O. Lahiri also compares him to Guy de Maupassant for their ability to compress the narrative without losing the story and the common themes of middle-class life written with an unyielding and unpitying vision.
His attitude, coupled with his perception of life, provided a unique ability to fuse characters and actions and an ability to use ordinary events to create a connection in the mind of the reader. A significant contributor to his writing style was his creation of Malgudi, a stereotypical small town, where the standard norms of superstition and tradition apply.
Narayan's writing style was often compared to that of William Faulkner since both their works brought out the humor and energy of ordinary life while displaying compassionate humanism. The similarities also extended to their juxtaposing of the demands of society against the confusions of individuality.
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Although their approach to subjects was similar, their methods were different; Faulkner was rhetorical and illustrated his points with immense prose while Narayan was very simple and realistic, capturing the elements all the same. There are some critics who find fault with Narayan for the ending of his stories in an unconvincing way. Just like O'Henry, he ends some of his stories with a 'sudden reversal of situation.
He gave his readers something to look forward with Malgudi and its residents and is considered to be one of the best novelists India has ever produced. He brought small-town India to his audience in a manner that was both believable and experiential. Malgudi was not just a fictional town in India but one teeming with characters, each with their own idiosyncrasies and attitudes, making the situation as familiar to the reader as if it were their own backyard.
The story has a twist in the tale. The otherwise adventure less life of the astrologer suddenly poses a grave problem from his past life and demands alertness to tackle the situation. The story R. The story also deals with the darker side of human nature with its hypocrisies, shrewdness, revengeful nature and selfishness.
The characters in the story are no exception to these qualities of human nature. Finally all is well that ends well with the astrologer coming out with flying colors in his examination of befooling his opponent, saving his life and also saw to it that he does not face the man again in future. The setting of the story is a town, Malgudi which is located in South India, near to Madras.
It is not a story of contemporary times but pre - independence times. The story opens at the midday. This is the time when the astrologer opens his business. The writer describes how he begins his business. He removes all his professional equipment like cowries shells, charts, Palmyra writing etc.
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He is also dressed typically like an astrologer to attract customers. His forehead is bright with sacred ash and vermilion.
R. K. Narayan's 'An Astrologer's Day'
His eyes are assumed to have a prophetic light by his customers. He wears a saffron turban. Thus the astrologer presented himself so perfectly that he was consequently a point of attraction for all the people. The writer describes the path along the Town Hall Park where the astrologer sits to lure his prospective customers. He carried on his business under a tamarind tree on the Town Hall road. The path was the right place to carry on his business as it was amply crowded with different trades and traders like medicine sellers, hardware and junk, magicians, cloth - sellers etc.
Next to him sat a fried groundnut vendor whose gas light enabled him to carry on his business even after sunset. The astrologer was a shrewd person who hardly had any knowledge of astrology. He just made a guess work when people approached him. He had to work hard to earn his wages.
He had absconded from his native village since he didn't want to continue the traditional occupation of his forefathers i. He never had any plans to return to his native village. He was a mastermind at analyzing human mind and psychology. His customers would finally leave satisfied. He closed his shop for the day when his neighbor, groundnut vendor blew out his light. On the day under description in the story, the groundnut vendor left and the astrologer was packing up his wares when he located a man standing before him. He perceived him to be his prospective customer. When the astrologer invited him, he posed a challenge before him and his astrological science.
They have a deal between them. The man gave him an anna and asked the astrologer to answer his questions and if he doesn't answer satisfactorily he will have to return the anna with interest. At the same time if the astrologer is able to answer the questions satisfactorily he would give him eight annas. But if the astrologer fails, he would pay double amount i.
Thus the deal was finalized between them. The astrologer prayed to the heaven. Then suddenly the astrologer denied the challenge and requested the man to let him go. The man said that he will not let him give in. He holds him in his grip thereby making the astrologer shiver. Finally, the astrologer realized that he is trapped and has no chance of moving out. The man turned out to be a criminal by profession. The astrologer shivered and unwillingly accepted the challenge.
He started telling about some woman but the man was not satisfied and stopped him. He had a single question that whether he would get what he was searching for. The man promised the astrologer that if he is satisfied with his answers, he would pay him a rupee. The astrologer prayed a few incantations before replying.
The astrologer began with his prophecies by saying to the man that you were left for dead in the past and a knife has passed once on your chest. The man was excited at this information since he had really faced it. After he got wounded, he was thrown into a well nearby to die. A passerby saw him and rescued him and that is how he was saved from dying. The man was waiting to revenge the culprit who had attacked him and was in search of the culprit who had tried to kill him.
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The only thing which the man wanted to know from the astrologer was if he can find his killer. The astrologer instantly replied that the culprit had died four months ago in a far - off town. The man was disappointed to hear this. The astrologer identified the name of the man before him as Guru Nayak.
He told the man that his village was a two days' journey to R. He asked him to return to his hometown immediately as his life was in danger if he left his hometown again. The man replied that he left home just to search the culprit who had tried to kill him and was interested in knowing if he had died in a worst way.
The astrologer satisfied him by informing that the culprit was crushed under a lorry. The man left after giving the astrologer a handful of coins. The astrologer too winded up his belongings and went home. The astrologer's wife was waiting for him worriedly since he was unusually late that day. The astrologer flung the coins at his wife to count. They were twelve and a half annas in all. She was extremely happy to encounter that big amount. She planned to buy jaggery and coconut for their child, who was demanding for sweets from a long time.
However, the astrologer looked worried and was not happy like his wife. He was angry at Guru Nayak as he had cheated him. He promised to give a rupee and actually gave only twelve and a half annas.