How are the trees in the forest and Tom Walker's house both symbolic of Tom's religious life?

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mperez-mugg21 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Devil and Tom Walker" the trees in the swamp and Tom's house are both symbolic of Tom's religious life because, just like him, they are both strong and impressive looking from the outside but rotten on the inside. When Tom talks to the devil in the swamp, he notices that many of the trees nearby have the names of prominent members of the community inscribed on them. He also notices that these trees look healthy from the outside but are rotten and dead on the inside. These trees symbolize the lives of the men who's names they bear, prominent member's of the community but corrupt and immoral. Similarly, once Tom has sold his soul to the devil for treasure and become incredibly wealthy as a usurer, he builds a house that is beautiful and impressive from the outside but empty and unfinished on the inside. Both the trees and Tom's house are similar to Tom's religious character, because while Tom plays the part of a religious person in public, in his private life he continues to profit from the misfortune of his clients.

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The Devil and Tom Walker

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