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The Devil and Tom Walker

by Washington Irving

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When Tom says, "the devil take me .... if i have made a farthing" what is ironic about that?

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Washington Irving's "The Devil and Tom Walker" presents a rather wry portrait of a miserly man who will not make a deal with the devil not because he does not want to lose his soul, but because he does not want to share the riches with his wife.  After his wife, angered that he has not struck a deal with the Devil, goes into the woods with all her valuables and is seen no more, Tom decides to negotiate with the Devil.  After doing so, Tom becomes very rich in the employ of the Devil as a usurer.  However, as he ages, Tom begins to have second thoughts about losing his soul.  So, he carries a Bible in his coat pocket, and he keeps a Bible on his countinghouse desk and reads in between his "usurious bargains." 

But, one day when he forecloses on a mortgage, "the poor land jobber" begs for a few months' extension, saying that Tom has enough money now, but Tom Walker refuses him another day denying that he has made any money from the "land jobber":

"The Devil take me," said he, "if I have made a farthing!"

This statement illustrates irony of situation.  For, Tom Walker in his miserly way is simply mitigating his financial gain from the man, but the reality is that the Devil does actually take him.  Three knocks come at Tom's door; there stands a black man with a black horse, who tells Tom that he is "come for."  Because Tom has left his big Bible on the desk and the little one in his coat, Tom is "taken."

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