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The Devil and Tom Walker

by Washington Irving

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How does Tom try to get out of the bargain in "The Devil and Tom Walker"?

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In "The Devil and Tom Walker" Tom tries to get out of his deal with the devil by becoming religious. As he grows older Tom starts to attend church services and pray and sing loudly. In fact, the narrator notes that in his later years "Tom was as rigid in religious, as in money matters; he was a stern supervisor and censurer of his neighbors, and seemed to think every sin entered up to their account became a credit on his own side of the page." Tom was worried that the devil might come to take him at any time and "That he might not be taken unawares, therefore, it is said he always carried a small bible in his coat pocket." Tom tried to compensate for his moral failings and break his deal with the devil by taking on the trappings of religion; however, ironically, Tom never changed his moral behavior and continued his practice of extorting money from those who came to him for loans. This was ultimately his undoing, as the devil comes to take him away while he is in the middle of mistreating one of his clients. In the end, Tom's outwardly religious behavior couldn't compensate for his cruel and unethical behavior.

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