What traits do Tom Walker and his wife share in "The Devil and Tom Walker"?

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auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Walkers, in "The Devil and Tom Walker," are quite a pair!  They're both all crusty and cantankerous--they act it and they look it.  Their marriage is a bitter one, as they're poor and have had to work hard. 

They're also both willing to sell their souls to the devil.  One tries it--and dies immediately--and one does it and dies eventually, both at the hands of the devil.

They're also both willing (and do) keep secrets from one another.  Tom actually tried to keep his secret but couldn't; his wife kept her secret and died for it.

In short, the two of them were more alike than different, and they probably deserved one another.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

"The Devil and Tom Walker" is a fictional sketch by Washington Irving written with his characteristically humorous skepticism of human nature. Tom and his wife both are miserly and even strive to cheat the other. For, Mrs. Walter continually hides things and Tom forages through her things in search of what she may have cached from him; in addition, they physically fight, all of which makes for "a den of discord."

Unusual for Tom, then, is his revelation to his miserly and termagent wife of his experiences in the forest with Old Scratch, but he is so shaken by the encounter that he feels the need to tell someone; of course, she must have seen the black imprint of a finger burnt upon his forehead. As Tom relates the recent occurrences,

All her avarice was awakened at the mention of hidden gold, and she urged her husband to comply with the black man's terms and secure what would make them wealthy for life. 

It is then that each conspires against the other. She sneaks out there and tries to cheat the Devil, and Tom later returns to secure a bargain with Old Scratch.

Therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Walker have the following traits in common:

  1. greedy
  2. deceptive
  3. bellicose
  4. selfish
  5. uncaring of each other
thomascountycentral's profile pic

thomascountycentral | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

well they both are greedy, greedy enough to actually cheat off each other, for example food, or other things such as silverware. Both miserable, miserly, and just poor to the bone, married and had to deal with it.

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