In "The Devil and Tom Walker", what details about the Devil suggest an "everyman" quality?

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The term "everyman" is often used to describe average character traits, or other things that are considered commonplace and familiar to us. The degree to which something is considered an everyman-quality depends upon the standards normally expected in the circumstance; for example, the Devil wearing clothes may be a common enough depiction that this doesn't count as an everyman quality, but the exact nature of his clothes might. Everyman qualities are often used to make something easier to relate to and more sympathetic by making it seem "like us" or "normal".

Some possible everyman qualities in this story include;

  • The Devil initially has no plan to enact, and he isn't omniscient; he doesn't know Tom's name or why he's in the woods. Scratch seems to just be minding his own business.
  • The Devil "amusing himself" by tormenting people, implying that he's just bored
  • The analogy that he knows how to "play his cards", in that he needs to avoid being easy to summon in order to build up anticipation for his appearance, as though this were all a game.
  • Walking, humming, and acting like he doesn't really feel like talking to Tom, as though he's forgetful or has better things to do.
  • Knocking on Tom's door to retrieve him at the end of the story, when it's perfectly likely that Tom could have been taken whenever and however the Devil pleased.
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The Devil and Tom Walker

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