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The Devil and Tom Walker

by Washington Irving

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In "The Devil and Tom Walker," what adjectives in the second paragraph describes Tom and his wife?

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The adjectives that are used in the second paragraph of this story greatly help to describe the characters of Tom and his wife as they are introduced to the reader. What is clear is above all else Irving wishes to emphasise both their lack of money but also their intense greed that consumes them both, and makes their lives a constant battle, both with the world around them and with each other. Note, for example, the following details:

...there lived near this place a meagre miserly fellow of the name of Tom Walker. He had a wife as miserly as himself; they were so miserly that they even conspired to cheat each other.

Adjectives such as "meagre" and "misery" are highlighted, especially through the repetition of "misery" as applying to both Tom and his wife. Tom's wife is later described in the same paragraph as a "tall termagant" who is both "fierce" and "loud" and finally "strong of arm." She is presented as such a formidable figure that unmarried men walk past their clearing and rejoice in their bachelor status. At the end of the second paragraph, therefore, the reader is left with a very clear impression of their miserly nature, but also an idea of the strength of Tom's wife's character, who is certainly not a woman to argue with, and is more than a match for her husband.

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