The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

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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?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"The Devil and Tom Walker" is a cautionary tale that warns against greed. The narrator addresses moneylenders as his audience, stating:

Let all gripping money-brokers lay this story to heart.

However, the audience is all of us. Anyone might be tempted to be greedy and make money at another's expense.

The story is a parable, a tale with a moral message. Tom Walker and his wife are both obsessed with money, and they both come to a bad end.

The story is not condemning money itself, but having an insatiable appetite for money that overtakes common compassion and care for living beings. Tom's wife hoards money secretly and the two compete for money, caring more about it than each other. They are also willing to starve their horses to have more money.

After Tom's wife dies, accumulating money becomes even more of an obsession for Tom. He becomes a money-lender making loans to the desperate at high interest rates. When the loans can't be repaid, Tom heartlessly seizes everything his clients own,...

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