In " The Devil and Tom Walker," what are 3 actions Tom takes to change his life after making the deal with the devil?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tom becomes a money-lender, exacting "good pay and security," by charging higher fees to those who most needed the credit he could offer. In the process, he becomes very wealthy. He built a "vast house" with all the money he had (though he was too cheap to furnish it) and he even bought a carriage (but wouldn't feed the horses enough, because it was too expensive.) As he gets older, "having secured the good things of this world, he began to feel anxious about the next." He also, as an inveterate cheapskate, begins to think of ways that he might cheat Old Scratch out of his due. The first thing he does is to begin attending church regularly, where he is very ostentatious in his displays of faith. He prays "loudly and strenuously," and makes a point of passing judgment on his fellow churchgoers, most of whom had not discovered faith as late as he had. The second thing he did was to begin carrying a Bible around at all times, and to have a large copy on his desk while he made his business deals. Finally, it was rumored that, as he got older and more "crack-brained," Tom had his horse shod and buried with its feet sticking up, because he thought that when the world came to an end, everything would be turned upside down. He thought the horse would be ready for him to quickly flee the wrath of Old Scratch. Of course, these efforts at eluding Old Scratch are in vain, and the devil gets his due, so to speak.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After making his deal with the Devil, Tom Walker becomes a usurer, becoming a wealthy and "mighty man." However, as he grows older, Tom regrets the bargain which he has made. So, he tries to make up for his sins by doing the following: 

  1. He became a "violent churchgoer," praying loudly if he had sinned.
  2. He censures his neighbors's sins
  3. He carries a Bible in his coat pocket.

As Tom grows older, he begins to worry about the next life, pondering with regret now on the bargain that he has made with Old Scratch. So, he sets out to cheat Old Scratch of the bargain for his soul, hoping to retrieve his soul before he dies. He, therefore, becomes very rigid in his religion. But, because he feels that the Devil will "have his due," Tom carries the Bible with him. Nevertheless, his true nature emerges. One day there are three loud knocks at the door of his business. Outside stands a black man with a black horse, which stamps with impatience. "Tom, you're come for," said the black man, and Tom shrinks back in fear. The black man whisks Tom off with Tom on his back as he gallops away, and Tom Walker never returns.


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The Devil and Tom Walker

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