In "The Devil and Tom Walker", describe Tom's first house and property.

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tom's story suggests that his life is modeled on those who imagine a "get-rich-quick" strategy will make up for a life of poor habits. It isn't even clear what Tom's job is, if he even has one; he appears only to have a pitiable house and a poorly-kept property. 

Tom's house is described as "forlorn", meaning abandoned or sad, and surrounded by "savin trees" - which is another name for junipers, which have a habit of growing in twisted, wind-shaped ways, and are here called "emblems of sterility", perhaps also a metaphor for why Tom and his wife have no children. Tom and his wife are described as "inmates", suggesting the house is more like a jail, although perhaps it is a jail meant to keep others out rather than to keep them in, since they seem content to antagonize each other, and they never have any visitors or travelers.

The property is said to have a single, nearly-starved horse who "stalks" a field that consists of moss and stone, implying that the field is either unsuitable for farming or pasturing, or that Tom is simply too lazy to plow the stones and make something of it. 

Overall, the house and property contribute to the simplistic "ugliness is bad" moral often found in relatively straightforward fables such as this one, reinforcing that Tom and his wife are corrupt and their lives and surroundings are consumed by unpleasant signs of their personal problems.

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The Devil and Tom Walker

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