How does Tom try to get out of his bargain?
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Tom gets frightened in his old age, not wanting to lose his soul. He begins to go to church and becomes devoutly religious, believing he can "chase the devil" from him; in essence, scare it away. Irving lets us know that Tom is not successful, and when the devil takes Tom away, his fortune - and house - crumble.
He becomes a "violent churchgoer." He also keeps a large Bible on his desk and carries a small one in his pocket. He becomes very judgmental, keeping track (almost like a ledger) of others' sins. He seems to think he can justify his sins if he can show that he is not as sinful as other people.
The problem with this plan is that even though he becomes religious, he never becomes righteous. He never changes his wicked behavior. The irony is that he could have gotten out of the deal if he had truly repented.
This is a Faustian tale. Dr. Faustus, by Marlowe, Faust, by Goethe, and many stories since, are all tales of people who make deals with the devil. In some of these tales, the person does get out of the deal, but that can only occur if the person TRULY repents. Goethe's Faust repents and goes to heaven. Dr. Faustus in Marlowe's version never does. Neither does Tom Walker.
Becoming a zealous church-goer
Tom Walker tries to get out of his deal with the devil by becoming avidly involved with the church. He carries two bibles around with him to all places and prays regularly. He believes that getting closer to God will get him away form the devil. Although he becomes religious, he does not become a better person.
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