What are the various names given to the stranger in the woods?

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junebug614 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Devil and Tom Walker," the main character, Tom, comes across a mysterious stranger in the woods. Even though the words "The Devil" are in the title of the short story, the narrator allows Tom and the reader to discover the identity of this stranger. First, his clothing is described in archetypal Devilish characteristics - he has sooty, brown skin, primitive clothing accentuated by red details, crazy black hair, and, of course, giant red eyes. Still, his identity is not known for certain to the reader or Tom. Finally, Tom asks who he is, and the mysterious stranger replies: 

"Oh, I go by various names. I am the Wild Huntsman in some countries; the Black Miner in others. In this neighborhood I am known by the name of the Black Woodsman. I am he to whom the red men devoted this spot, and now and then roasted a white man by way of sweet smelling sacrifice. Since the red men have been exterminated by you white savages, I amuse myself by presiding at the persecutions of quakers and anabaptists; I am the great patron and prompter of slave dealers, and the grand master of the Salem witches."

"The upshot of all which is, that, if I mistake not," said Tom, sturdily, "you are he commonly called Old Scratch."

He never once calls himself "the Devil" but both Tom and the reader are pretty clear as to his identify now by the events he references throughout his answer. This is a way to identify who the stranger is but also to accentuate his frequent power on humans throughout history.  

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The Devil and Tom Walker

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