Symbolism in The Devil and Tom Walker

Symbolism in The Devil and
Tom Walker
Old Scratch
 Old Scratch is the Devil
 The Devil symbolizes temptation
Old Scratch
Where do we see the Devil symbolizing temptation?
Old Scratch
“The black man told him of great sums of money
buried by Kidd the pirate ... All these were under his
command, and protected by his power, so that none
could find them but such as propitiated his favor”
(lines 128-131).
The Swamp
 The shortcut through the swam = “shortcuts” to
 The swamp = where the shortcuts to wealth usually
 The rotted trees in the forest = the moral decay of
 The tallness of the trees = the pride of the people
The Swamp
Where do we see the swamp symbolizing pride, moral
decay, and shortcuts?
The Swamp
 “One day that Tom Walker had been to a distant part of
the neighborhood, he took what he considered a
shortcut homeward, through the swamp. Like most
shortcuts, it was an ill-chosen route” (lines 38-40).
 “‘Look yonder, and see how Deacon Peabody is faring.’
Tom looked in the direction that the stranger pointed,
and beheld one of the great trees, fair and flourishing
without, but rotten at the core, and saw that it had been
nearly hewn through... On the bark of the tree was
scored the name of Deacon Peabody, an eminent man,
who had waxed wealthy by driving shrewd bargains
with the Indians. He now looked around, and found
most of the tall trees marked with the name of some
great man of the colony, and all more or less scored by
the ax” (lines 94-102)
Tom Walker
 Tom Walker symbolizes greed
Tom Walker
With a partner or alone, find one example in the text
where Tom Walker is greedy.
Tom Walker
 “Tom might have felt disposed to sell himself to the
devil” (lines 53 and 54)
 “‘You shall open a broker’s shop in Boston
next month,’ said the black man.
‘I’ll do it tomorrow, if you wish,’ said Tom Walker.
‘You shall lend money at two percent a month.’
‘Egad, I’ll charge four!’ replied Tom Walker” (lines
The Bible
 The Bible buried under mortgage papers symbolizes
greed and moral decay
The Bible
Where in the text do we see The Bible symbolizing
greed and moral decay?
The Bible
 “He had left his little Bible at the bottom of his coat
pocket, and his big Bible on the desk buried under
the mortgage he was about to foreclose; never was a
sinner taken more unawares” (lines 321-323).
Tom Walker’s House
 His new house (after becoming a usurer) is large and
symbolizes ostentation and false appearances. He is
trying to “keep up with the Joneses”
 Ostentation: Noun – Pretentious display meant to
impress others; boastful showiness; pretentious
Tom Walker’s House
 Where in the text do we see the symbolism of Tom
Walker’s new house as ostentatious and a false
Tom Walker’s House
 “He built himself, as usual, a vast house, out of
ostentation; but left the greater part of it unfinished
and unfurnished, out of parsimony. He even set up a
carriage in the fullness of his vainglory, though he
nearly starved the horses which drew it” (lines 270275).
Tom Walker as an Usurer
 Tom Walker as a usurer symbolizes loan officers who
trick people into bad loans, cars they can’t afford,
and consumer credit cards with unreasonable terms;
predatory lending institutions; corrupt credit card
Tom Walker as an Usurer
Where in the text do we see the symbolism of Tom
Walker’s career?
Tom Walker as an Usurer
 “At this propitious time of public distress did Tom
Walker set up as usurer in Boston. His door was soon
thronged by customers. The needy and adventurous,
the gambling speculator, the dreaming land-jobber,
the thriftless tradesman, the merchant with cracked
credit; in short, everyone driven to raise
money by desperate means and desperate
sacrifices hurried to Tom Walker. Thus Tom
was the universal friend of the needy” (lines 259264).
Do people like Tom Walker (people who take
advantage of other peoples’ poor financial situation)
still exist today?

similar documents