How does Tom react to the Devil and his offer in Washington Irving's "The Devil and Tom Walker?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Tom Walker, the protagonist of Washington Irving's "The Devil and Tom Walker," meets the Devil in a swampy land on his way home. Tom, having lived with an abusive wife, "had no fear of the devil." Initially, Tom refuses the Devil's offer of Captain Kidd's treasure for his soul. 

Later, after his wife disappears and Tom realizes that he will not have to share his wealth, Tom accepts the Devil's offer. Although he refuses to be a slave trader as part of the deal, Tom does agree to be a usurer (one who loans money including an exuberant amount of interest). Over time, Tom believes that he has found a way to beat the Devil (by becoming a Christian). Yet, a deal is a deal, and Tom cannot break his contract. While unafraid of the Devil at the beginning, Tom does fear the Devil at the end. The Devil gets what he wants (which is Tom). 

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