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“The Devil and Tom Walker” Washington Irving

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1 “The Devil and Tom Walker” Washington Irving

2 2. Describe the settings of the story.
Tom’s Home: “…a forlorn looking house that stood alone and had an air of starvation.” (230) Lifeless; lacking qualities of warmth “…a miserable horse whose limbs were as articulate as the bars of a gridiron…” (230) Tom and his wife are neglectful, only concerned with selves

3 2. Describe the settings of the story.
Indian Fort: “It was a dreary memento of the fierce struggle that had taken place in this last foothold of the Indian warriors” (231) Invokes the memory of death and disaster; represents Hell “Anyone but [Tom] would have felt unwilling to linger in this lonely, melancholy place…” (231) Most people, with the exception of Tom, fear the fort

4 2. Describe the settings of the story.
Boston Boston = Corruption The city is riddled with mishaps involving materialism/capitalism ($$$) “In a word, the great speculating fever… had raged to an alarming degree, and everybody was dreaming of making sudden fortunes for nothing.” (236)

5 Devil’s characteristics:
3. Describe the devil. How does he differ from our traditional perception? Devil’s characteristics: “Neither Negro nor Indian” “…dressed in a rude half-Indian garb” “his face… begrimed with soot, as if he had been accustomed to toil among fires and forges.” “…had a shock of coarse black hair… and bore an ax on his shoulder” “Old Scratch” appears more human-like than supernatural.

6 The trees symbolize moral decay
4. Describe the trees that surround the Indian fort. What do they symbolize? The trees are marked with the name of a wealthy proprietor, each of which has made a deal with the devil The Devil has hewn through the trees marked with a dead man’s name The trees symbolize moral decay “…fair and flourishing” on the outside and yet “rotten at the core.” (231)

7 5. What is the devil’s signature?
The Devil’s signature is a thumbprint to Tom’s forehead “When Tom reached home, he found the black print of a finger, burnt, as it were, into his forehead, which nothing could obliterate.” (233)

8 6. Why doesn’t Tom accept the devil’s offer immediately?
Tom is not prone to letting his wife in on secrets involving money “…he was determined not to do so to oblige his wife; so he flatly refused out of the mere spirit of contradiction.” (233) “…but the more she talked, the more resolute was Tom not to be damned to please her.”

9 7. What does Tom’s wife do after he talks to her about the devil’s offer?
Tom’s wife meets in secret with the Devil but refuses to let Tom in on the deal she has made with him “At length she was determined to drive the bargain on her own account.” (233) She carries off in her apron every “portable article of value” but is never seen again

10 8. Ultimately, what happens to Tom’s wife?
Although the details of her demise are unclear, we are led to believe that she is killed by the Devil in order to entice Tom to make the deal Tom finds only her liver and heart wrapped up in her apron; he does not seem saddened by her death “He even felt something like gratitude towards the black woodsman, who, he considered, had done him a kindness.” (235)

11 9. What does the Devil want Tom to do for the money? Why won’t he do it? What does he finally agree to do? The Devil wants Tom to deal in “black traffic” and become a slave trader Tom refuses out of good conscience; there are few things Tom won’t do for money and this is one of those things This is telling of Washington Irving’s feelings about slavery. Tom agrees, instead, to become “usurer” (loan shark) Loan out Kidd’s money at a high rate in order to make more $$$

12 11. What the following symbolize?
Old Scratch = Temptation Tom Walker = Greed & Hypocrisy Boston = Corruption The Bible = Protection The Indian fort = Hell

13 13. What are possible themes for this story? (theme = universal idea)
Temptation Greed Dishonesty Salvation Domestic dispute Wickedness Hypocrisy

14 14. One of the characteristics of Romantic literature is. the past
14. One of the characteristics of Romantic literature is the past. Irving uses legend and folklore as American past/history. Complete the following chart with examples from the story. Characteristics of Folk Tales Example from “The Devil and Tom Walker” Long, local history  The legend of Kidd the Pirate’s treasure Relate unusual or unlikely events Meeting the Devil in the forest ; making a compact with a supernatural being Involve stereotypical or stock characters Devil = trickster Tom = Miser Wife = termagant Teach a lesson or express a general truth about life Taking short cuts in life will lead you down the wrong path May have an allegorical meaning American capitalist greed 

15 Old Scratch  Federal Capitalist enterprise
15. An allegory is defined as a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms or a symbolic narrative. Look at “The Devil and Tom Walker” as an allegory – (for the American economic system?) What might each of these represent? (Look back at the symbolism question…it will help) Old Scratch  Federal Capitalist enterprise Murky woods  uncertain/unknown curiosities --the stock market?? Trees  pillars of economic miscues (decay on the inside/”beauty” on the outside) Tom Walker  the lenders Tom’s short cut through the woods  “ill-chosen” short cuts to wealth; wrong path

16 16. Satire is defined as the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or
16. Satire is defined as the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. Is Irving satirizing an individual, a society, or all of humankind? Explain, using examples from the text. At what foibles does he level his attack? Irving attacks man’s insatiable hunger for wealth and he exploits the readiness of mankind to compromise his moral integrity. Weaknesses Curiosity Greed Lack of work ethic Imperialist nature

17 17. Dramatic irony is a literary device whereby a character
17. Dramatic irony is a literary device whereby a character inadvertently speaks the truth, foreshadowing tragic events of which he is unaware. Find the sentence in the conclusion of the tale where Tom makes this kind of ironic statement. “The Devil take me…” (230)

18 “The Devil and Tom Walker”

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