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Study Guide: The Devil and Tom Walker
English 11A

1. Describe Tom Walker with three adjectives.

2. Describe Tom Walkers wife with three adjectives.

3. How is the Walkers house described? Provide exact wording from the text. Why do
you think Irving describes it in this way?

4. What mood does the description of the swamp create in the paragraph beginning
with One day that Tom Walker had been to a distant

5. What do the trees in the swamp area symbolize and how do you know?

6. What is the relationship like between Mr. and Mrs. Walker and how do you know?
Provide specific examples from the text.

7. Explain the symbolism of the rotting tree and what the Devil does with it after
cutting it down.

8. What allusions are made in the story (i.e. Biblical, historical, literature, etc.)? How
do they contribute to the story?

9. Why did Tom always carry a Bible in his coat pocket?

10.What fateful lines did Tom utter which brought the end of his life?

11.Describe how the black man took Tom away. How did Tom encourage his own

12.What seems to be the lesson that this story is teaching?

13.Explain how Irving uses color imagery to reveal aspects of his characters in this
story. Use specific details from the story to support your response.

14.After finishing the story, what tone do you think prevailsis it comic, frightening,
sarcastic, bitter, or something else? Use examples from the story to support your

15. What is the transaction that is central to the story? Between which two characters
does the deal eventually take place? How does Washington Irving use humor to shift
the readers focus from the horror of the transaction? Give two examples from the
story, including quotes and a brief explanation of each.

16. In "The Devil & Tom Walker", the devil is described most fully on his first
encounter with Tom. What are the details of his description (see question 3 for the
list)? How is he made to seem like an ordinary person, an Everyman? What details
serve as reminders that he is Satan as we see him portrayed biblically? What part of
the description leads us to believe that he has adapted his methods to fit his tasks in
the New World?

17. The terms of Toms bargain with "Old Scratch" are of interest to the reader. We
know that in a deal with the devil, the sinner receives something that he thinks he
wants desperately, and the devil receives his soul in return. Tom is portrayed as a
greedy man who is obsessed with material goods. He asks for, and is granted, great
wealth. What information concerning the way he keeps his mansion and his horses
tells the reader that, although he has been granted wealth, he has no peace in
financial matters?

18. Is it possible to name an antagonist and a protagonist in this story? Explain your

19. Figurative language-Did the author include:

___ personification? Example and page number:
___ metaphors? Example and page number:
___ similes? Example and page number:

20. Does the author make use of flashbacks? If yes, give examples.

21. Point of View: From whose viewpoint is the story written?

___ 1st person
___ 3rd person, observer
___ 3rd person, omniscient
Is the point of view consistent throughout the story? If no, give examples.

22. Theme: What is the main idea of the short story?

23. Does the story contain:

symbolism example:

irony example:

satire example:

24. Reread the section in The Devil and Tom Walker in which the Devil and Tom set out
the terms of their working agreement. Identify the one activity the Devil asks of Tom
that Tom refuses. What does this refusal by Tom reflect about the social and moral
beliefs of Washington Irving and the Puritans of this time period?

25. First list all of the Romantic elements you find in the story. Then discuss their
significance to understanding the story.

26. How does this story tie to our theme of the American Dream and, more specifically,
the expansion of the United States westward?