The Devil and Tom Walker

What statements about American society do you think Irving is making in “The Devil and Tom Walker”?

How do you think these statements reflect popular themes of the romantic era? Cite evidence from the story to support your response.

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I think that Tom's values become a microcosm for values of American society. Tom's choices in this story are reflections of his valuing material wealth and financial prosperity over the well-being of others. He is more concerned with the loss of his valuable property than he is with the murder of his wife by Old Scratch. He shows no sympathy for those who come to him seeking loans, and instead bleeds them dry. Tom's values lie in the wrong place, and in the end he is punished for it. Tom embraces a a world of greed: the same world that the author sees America embracing. 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.