What kind of people are Tom Walker and his wife in "The Devil and Tom Walker"? Describe what you know about them.

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As was mentioned in the previous post, Tom Walker and his wife are both greedy, cantankerous, miserable individuals. At the beginning of the story, Irving describes Tom's wife as being "termagant" (defined by Merriam-Webster as "an overbearing or nagging woman") and having a fierce temper. She is continually arguing with Tom, which often leads to physical confrontations. Their home is described as being a "den of discord" because the couple is constantly fighting. Both Tom and his wife cheat one another by hiding their valuables. Tom was continually attempting to discover his wife's hiding places, which resulted in many arguments between the two. When Tom returns from his visit with Old Scratch, he reluctantly tells his wife about the encounter. Tom's greedy wife shows no concern for his well-being by immediately encouraging him to take the offer. Despite Tom's willingness to sell his soul, he refuses to return to Old Scratch simply to oppose his wife. When Tom's wife finally realizes that Tom will never oblige her wishes, she takes matters into her own hands by visiting the devil. Unfortunately, Tom's wife is not successful, and it is suggested that Old Scratch murdered her. However, Tom is pleased when his wife never returns home. 

teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Tom Walker and his wife are miserly, greedy, selfish people.  The narrator describes the state of the Walker house as being one with little amenities and decoration--Tom and his wife both want to keep their money rather than to spend it on anything extra.  After Tom meets the devil, his wife goes "behind his back" to try to make a deal with the devil instead; she cannot stand to think that Tom might get riches and keep them from her.  Tom and his wife always hide their money from each other, so one never knows what the other has.  At the end of the story, Tom exhibits his selfishness by agreeing to cheat honest workers out of their money through outrageous interest rates on his loans; even when the devil comes calling, Tom tries to hide the profits from him.  So both Tom and his wife only want riches at all costs for themselves.

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The Devil and Tom Walker

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