The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

Summary: The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving is about Tom Walker who lives a poor life, and is also in a horrible marriage. One day Tom comes across the devil and eventually strikes a bargain with him in order to become rich. Tom Walker tries to cheat the devil by becoming a church man but the devil gets him in the end.


Tom Walker - a poor man that makes a deal with the devil

Tom's Wife - tries to make a deal with the devil, never seen again

Kidd - the pirate that buried the treasure Tom used

Section One:

  • The pirate Kidd buried money and never got it because he was killed; The devil watches over pirate money
  • Tom and his wife fight not only verbally but physically
  • Tom and his wife are both very poor
  • Tom runs into the devil at an old Indian fort; The devil tries to make a deal with him for the Kidd treasure, and Tom declines
  • Tom tells his wife about the Devil, she wants him to make the deal; Tom refuses so she attempts to make the deal and is never seen again
  • Tom goes to look for his wife in the swamp; figuring she is dead when he finds her apron filled with a liver and heart
  • Tom considered the death of his wife to be good, and nice for him; so Tom decides to go make a deal with the devil
  • The devil tries to get Tom to become a slave dealer, but "the devil himself could not tempt him to turn slave trader"
  • Tom agrees to be an userer, which is someone that lends money to make a profit with interest
  • Tom makes all his money on people that have fallen on hard times; taking mortgages and deeds to property
  • Tom gets old and tries to think of a way to get out of the deal with the devil, he tries to be religious; he takes religion as law and looks at his neighbours wrongs as "credits" to himself
  • One day Tom says the Devil take him if he made money on a particular deal, and the Devil does

Other Notes:

  • Kidd was killed for being a pirate; the treasure was buried in a place that would be easy to find by the trees; it was also elevated for good lookout
  • Tom knows the stranger is the devil due to the comments the stranger makes about being the prompter of slave dealers, grandmaster of the Salem witches, etc
  • The devil shows people as being trees, he cut one down and the next day Tom found out the man was dead
  • Tom's wife seeks the devil to make a deal, she wants money
  • Tom will not spend his money, he will not oil his carriage cart wheels, he feeds his horses just enough to live, and he will not extend anyone's loan time
  • Tom does not have the bible with him when the Devil comes to get him; also Tom goes to church at the end of his life but he does not live by the church's ideas but rather is looking for loopholes to work in his favor

© 2009 copyright The Devil and Tom Walker | Washington Irving