Language Arts 11
“Thinking Critically” (page 186)
Irving's characters in this story are one-dimensional people who represent one or two character traits. In fact, Mrs. Tom Walker is a stereotype of the nagging wife, still a source of comedy today. What character traits are represented by Tom Walker? Why do you think Mrs. Walker met with such a nasty end.
There is nothing lovable in Tom Walker. He is cheap and gruff. He has no love for anyone-especially not his wife. Although, this is not a surprise, being that she is as unlikable as he is. The only thing that Tom Walker loves is money and angering his wife. He does not feel mercy, respect, or forgiveness. As it states “He prayed loudly and strenuously, as if heaven were to be taken by force of lungs.” (page 184), he is supposed religious awakening comes about only to prove to the Devil that he has changed-not by a spiritual awakening. He does not treat the church members any better than his wife. His wife's death effected a the story most. First, because she wanted him to accept the deal, he did not take it. He enjoyed angering her, and he didn’t want to share the wealth with his wife. The plot was moved forward by giving her a nasty end. If she did not try to make a deal to herself and been killed for it, Tom Walker might never had taken the deal. It also shows the lack of emotion in him, as he does not feel anything when confronted with the gruesomeness of his wife's death, as it states “Tom consoled himself for the loss of his property, with the loss of his wife, for he was a man of fortitude. He even felt something like gratitude toward the black woodman, who, he considered, had done him a kindness.” (page 182) So as a result, the nasty death of Mrs. Walter was the turning point of this story, and had affected Tom Walker to be such an greedy, selfish man.