The Devil and Tom Walker

Topics: Slavery, Fairy tale, Folklore Pages: 2 (627 words) Published: April 10, 2006
In The Devil and Tom Walker, Tom Walker meets a Black Man in the forest and the man tells of buried treasure, and Tom can have it – for a price. Tom agrees to swindle people for the Devil, and agrees to give the Devil his soul. While he quickly gained many riches of this world, he began to worry about the next and regretted making the deal with the Devil. Finally he tells one of his customers, "The devil take me if I have made a farthing!", and so the devil took him. This short story is an American folk tale because it has unrealistic events, it expresses a general truth about life, and has stereotypical characters that embody a single human trait.

Most American folktales have unrealistic or unlikely events that are intertwined with the main story; this is certainly true about The Devil and Tom Walker. In the story, Tom happens across the Devil: "It is true, he was dressed in a rude, half Indian garb, and had a red belt or sash swathed round his body, but his face was neither black nor copper colour, but swarthy and dingy and begrimed with soot, as if he had been accustomed to toil among fires and forges" (Washington Irving ). There is serious doubt as to whether or not the Devil would show up just to strike a bargain with a corrupt man. There are enough other people who can do that for the Devil quite nicely.

Traditional American folktales express a general truth about life in order to teach a lesson. ""The devil take me," said he, "if I have made a farthing!" Just then there were three loud knocks at the street door. He stepped out to see who was there. A black man was holding a black horse which neighed and stamped with impatience. "Tom, you're come for!" said the black fellow, gruffly" " (Irving ). In The Devil and Tom Walker, Tom agrees to sacrifice his integrity to gain wealth, which produces ill feelings and dissent towards Tom. In the end, all the money in the world couldn't help Tom be a better person or get him to Heaven. Indeed,...
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