Irving wrote "the devil and tom walker" when Puritanism was fading and the urge to acquire wealth was growing
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This story focuses largely on a theme of greed and its negative effects. Tom Walker is known throughout the Charles Bay for his greed, and it is this greed that leads him to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for money. Tom's plight is meant to warn readers not to let greed blind them, for, as is the case in "The Devil and Tom Walker," it can have disastrous consequences.
The theme of religion also figures prominently into this story, particularly at the end when Tom believes he can atone for his sins by playing a devout Christian on the outside, while still continuing his miserly, heartless practices. Irving clearly condemns the hypocrisy that often accompanies religion, just as Tom displays in the text. This story also subtly condemns Puritans for their intolerance in persecuting those who do not believe what they do. You can find these themes at the GradeSaver link below: