The devil and tom walker author. How does the author communicate his opinion of the Puritan attitude through Tom Walker's statements. 2022-10-22
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"The Devil and Tom Walker" is a short story by Washington Irving, published in his 1824 collection "Tales of a Traveller." The story is set in the early 18th century in the swampy, gloomy landscape of New England, and tells the tale of Tom Walker, a miserly and avaricious man who makes a deal with the devil in exchange for wealth and success.
Irving's story is a cautionary tale about the dangers of greed and the consequences of making a deal with the devil. Tom Walker is a stereotypical miser, hoarding his wealth and caring only for himself. He is mean-spirited and cruel, and has no qualms about exploiting others for his own gain.
When the devil appears to Tom in the form of a black man, offering him great wealth in exchange for his soul, Tom is tempted by the offer. He agrees to the deal, and the devil gives him a map to a hidden treasure. Tom becomes rich overnight, and uses his newfound wealth to become even more ruthless and greedy.
As Tom grows richer, he becomes more and more estranged from his wife, who is a good and religious woman. She begs him to repent and turn away from his wicked ways, but Tom is too blinded by his greed to listen. Eventually, the devil comes to collect on his end of the deal, and Tom is dragged down to Hell, leaving his wife and the community to mourn his wickedness.
Irving's "The Devil and Tom Walker" is a classic example of a cautionary tale, warning readers of the dangers of greed and the consequences of making a deal with the devil. It is a classic story that has stood the test of time and continues to be read and enjoyed by readers of all ages.
The Devil and Tom Walker Full Text
He raked it out of the vegetable mould, and lo! He called her name repeatedly, but she was nowhere to be heard. Second, Tom entered into the deal with the devil while knowing full well what that deal was, even though it wasn't stated in exact words. That the Indians worship Old Scratch is perhaps shocking though also consistent with the racist perception of Native Americans at the time the story was written. When Tom searches for his wife and property, all he finds is her apron holding her heart and liver, tied to a tree. This, however, is probably a mere old wives' fable. The fact that many of the names on the trees are powerful figures reinforces the notion that power and wealth invariably leads to moral corruption. A black man was holding a black horse which neighed and stamped with impatience.
How does "The Devil and Tom Walker" end? Why did the author end it this way?
What these conditions were may be easily surmised, though Tom never disclosed them publicly. Since the red men have been exterminated by you white savages, I amuse myself by presiding at the persecutions of Quakers and Anabaptists; I am the great patron and prompter of slave-dealers and the grand-master of the Salem witches. He was exceedingly surprised, having neither heard nor seen any one approach; and he was still more perplexed on observing, as well as the gathering gloom would permit, that the stranger was neither negro nor Indian. At length, it is said, when delay had whetted Tom's eagerness to the quick and prepared him to agree to anything rather than not gain the promised treasure, he met the black man one evening in his usual woodsman's dress, with his axe on his shoulder, sauntering along the swamp and humming a tune. Walker agrees readily, without really considering what he is expected to pay in return—his soul.
Based on "The Devil and Tom Walker," what is the author's purpose in writing? To whom is he appealing, and what is his message?
However, it is worth noting that the story depicts European Americans as devil worshippers because they act on their greed and corrupt themselves. No one ventured, however, to interfere between them. Such, according to this most authentic old story, was all that was to be found of Tom's wife. Only the devil truly possesses these things in the physical world, and he uses them to tempt humans to eternal damnation, like he's done with Peabody and Crowninshield. Finding Tom so squeamish on this point, he did not insist upon it, but proposed, instead, that he should turn usurer; the devil being extremely anxious for the increase of usurers, looking upon them as his peculiar people.
Tom has succumbed to what religious folk call idolatry, which is the worshipping of something that isn't God as if it were God. The old Indian fort, where Tom first met Old Scratch, also seems to be the gate which admits him to his damnation, suggesting that sin always comes full circle to its punishment. About the year 1727, just at the time that earthquakes were prevalent in New England, and shook many tall sinners down upon their knees, there lived near this place a meagre, miserly fellow, of the name of Tom Walker. There was nothing, however, to administer upon. Until the mid 20th century, this word, derived from an Algonquian language, was used neutrally by anthropologists and other social scientists in research contexts. Many American authors like Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne used or referenced the witch trials in their stories.
Tom Walker Character Analysis in The Devil and Tom Walker
As he turns up the soil, however, he strikes something hard with his staff: it turns out to be a human skull, with a rusty Indian axe buried deep in the bone. That the story is now a proverb again attests to its moral instructions, though unlike the dour Puritans of New England, the narrator preaches his moral instruction with some humanity and good cheer. When his wife learns of the encounter, she decides to take all of their possessions and make a deal of her own with the Devil. When they turn back around, the black man is gone. Tom Walker never returns to foreclose the mortgage. He consequently tries to meet up with the devil again, but without success for a time; the devil knows how to play his cards, after all. In this case, it's Mammon or wealth that's being worshipped, and Tom Walker is the high priest of this pernicious cult.
How does the author communicate his opinion of the Puritan attitude through Tom Walker's statements.
Tom's wife hoards money secretly, and the two compete for money, caring more about it than each other. . The rust on the weapon showed the time that had elapsed since this death-blow had been given. The house and its inmates had altogether a bad name. They lived in a forlorn-looking house that stood alone and had an air of starvation. Under one of these gigantic trees, according to old stories, there was a great amount of treasure buried by Kidd the pirate. Soon enough his attention was drawn by the clamor of crows hovering around a cypress, in whose branches he found a bundle tied in an apron.
Old Scratch, the very embodiment of sin, surprises Tom now, even though Tom has lived in sin all his life. He even felt something like gratitude toward the black woodsman, who, he considered, had done him a kindness. When Tom discovers that his wife had died at the hands of the Devil, he treats the occurrence almost as a joke. The old stories add, moreover, that the devil presided at the hiding of the money, and took it under his guardianship; but this, it is well known, he always does with buried treasure, particularly when it has been ill-gotten. But that grand theatrical ending with Tom being carried off by the devil is the real meat of the ending, and it sure is a show-stopper! Finding Tom so squeamish on this point, he did not insist upon it, but proposed, instead, that he should turn usurer; the devil being extremely anxious for the increase of usurers, looking upon them as his peculiar people. However Tom might have felt disposed to sell himself to the devil, he was determined not to do so to oblige his wife; so he flatly refused out of the mere spirit of contradiction.
'The Devil and Tom Walker' Summary and Study Guide
The earthquakes suggest how shaky a life of worldliness really is, and we might regard the story itself as a metaphorical earthquake that brings proud Tom to his knees. During his walk, he takes a break to rest due to the rough terrain and finds a skull with an Indian axe stuck in it. Irving's satirical humor is certainly evidenced in this and other passages about the greedy Puritans whose hypocrisy is displayed in their ostentatious behavior in church. It had been one of the strongholds of the Indians during their wars with the first colonists. At the same time, it's notable that Tom doesn't derive the least bit of happiness from being rich. She had probably attempted to deal with the black man as she had been accustomed to deal with her husband; but though a female scold is generally considered a match for the devil, yet in this instance she appears to have had the worst of it. They are also willing to starve their horses to have more money.
Some say that Tom grew a little crack-brained in his old days, and that, fancying his end approaching, he had his horse new shod, saddled, and bridled, and buried with his feet uppermost; because he supposed that at the last day the world would be turned upside-down; in which case he should find his horse standing ready for mounting, and he was determined at the worst to give his old friend a run for it. He thought with regret on the bargain he had made with his black friend, and set his wits to work to cheat him out of the conditions. Tom lost his patience and his piety. To protect himself, he becomes zealously and hypocritically religious and always carries a bible with him. He accumulated bonds and mortgages, gradually squeezed his customers closer and closer, and sent them at length, dry as a sponge, from his door. However, the story also closes with a humorous image, of Tom haunting the swamp not with tragic dignity or even scary anger, but rather in his morning gown. The good people of Boston shook their heads and shrugged their shoulders, but had been so much accustomed to witches and goblins, and tricks of the devil, in all kinds of shapes, from the first settlement of the colony, that they were not so much horror-struck as might have been expected.
Having secured the good things of this world, he began to feel anxious about those of the next. Significantly, the names on the doomed trees refer mostly if not entirely to the great men of the colony, implying that to become rich and powerful one must also morally contaminate oneself. Her husband was continually prying about to detect her secret hoards, and many and fierce were the conflicts that took place about what ought to have been common property. The very hole under the oak-trees, whence he dug Kidd's money, is to be seen to this day; and the neighboring swamp and old Indian fort are often haunted in stormy nights by a figure on horseback, in morning-gown and white cap, which is doubtless the troubled spirit of the usurer. He looked up and beheld a bundle tied in a check apron and hanging in the branches of the tree, with a great vulture perched hard by, as if keeping watch upon it.