What is the story "The Devil and Tom Walker" about and what does it mean?

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dneshan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What is the story about?

A cheap, hen-pecked husband who is constantly cheating his wife (just as she cheats him) out of money is met by the devil one day and is offered a large sum of money.  Tom refuses the offer, knowing that his wife would also benefit if he takes the offer. One day, his wife mysteriously disappears, probably killed by the devil, and Tom finds the devil and takes him up on his offer.  Tom becomes a rich usurer and lives to be a rich old man but is still just a cheap as he was before.  As Tom becomes older he tries very hard to make sure that the dvil never comes back for him, but his plans fail.  The devil comes one day and takes Tom and his soul away, never to be seen or heard from again.

What does it mean?

This is an American folktale, and just as with all American folktales its purpose was to teach a lesson.  The lesson of this story is that people should not be greedy; they should share what they have and help others out because there is no telling when they will need help one day.

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The Devil and Tom Walker

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