Does Tom Walker agree to the devil's pact in order to receive the money?Washington Irving's "The Devil and Tom Walker"

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Tom Walker first encounters "Old Scratch" as he is commonly called, they have a long conversation, but even though the devil offers to place wealth within Tom's power, Tom refuses the conditions because

He was determined not to do so to oblige his wife; so he flatly refused, out of the mere spirit of contradiction.

Tom determines not to please his "termagant wife"; so, the more she talks, the more he becomes resolute not to "be damned to please her." Angered by her husband, Tom's wife decides to drive the bargain with the devil herself, and sets out with the silver teapot and spoons in her apron.  However, when she does not return, Tom ventures out to learn the fate of his wife.  What he finds is her apron in a tree with a vulture hovering over it; inside the apron are her liver and heart.

Finally, Tom encouters the black man in the woods one evening and they haggle over the terms of the "pirate's treasure."  In addition to asking for Tom's soul, Old Scratch demands that Tom become a slave trader, but Tom refuses because this is even below his moral code.  Then, the devil suggests that Tom become a usurer, a position that appeals to Tom's "tastes."  Thus, they shake hands and strike their bargain, and Tom makes a fortune in the great speculating fever which soon breaks out in the country.  Tom soon becomes a rich and powerful man.  Of course, as he ages, Tom has a "lurking dread that the Devil, after all, would have his due."  And, he does.

Read the study guide:
The Devil and Tom Walker

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question