the devil and tom walker by washington irving n.
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The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

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  1. The Devil and Tom Walkerby Washington Irving p. 318

  2. Literature Quiz #4 At the end of the story, Tom changes something in his life so that he may escape the devil. What does he change?

  3. Washington Irving • Irving studied law, but never had a passion for it. Instead, he adored writing fiction. • When he was young, Irving traveled most of Europe for 17 years. • He blended European mythology with stories he had heard in New York to create his stories, most notably The Headless Horseman. • In 1824, Irving published a short story collection titled Tales of a Traveller. • The book was not well received by critics, despite its international success. In fact, the criticism was so bad that he stopped writing altogether.

  4. Text Analysis: Satire • Irving was a master of satire. • A literary device in which people, customs, or governments are ridiculed for the purpose of improvement. • Think Bassam Youssef or John Stewart.

  5. Reading Skill: Analyze Imagery • Imagery is words and phrases that appeal to the five senses. • Irving uses imagery excessively in his writing to ‘show’ his characters or objects. • Irving also uses imagery to establish mood.

  6. Vocabulary • Melancholy • Persecution • Avarice • Usurer • Speculating • Propitious • Ostentation • Censurer • Gloomy or sad • The act of oppressing • Greed • One who lends money at great interest • Engaging in risky deals for quick money • Showing favorable chances • A display meant to impress others • One who expresses strong disapproval or criticism

  7. Reading Skills and Text Analysis • IMAGERY: lines 1-15: What details in the description suggest that this is an ill-fated place? • IMAGERY: lines 16-30: What character traits do these revel about Tom and his wife? • IMAGERY: lines 40-47: What mood is established in the swamp? • MAKE INFERENCES: lines 68-77: What can you infer about Tom from his reaction to the swamp and to his grisly discovery of the skull? • MAKE INFERENCES: lines 96-105: Why do you think the trees are marked with the men’s names? • SATIRE: lines 115-118: what do these lines tell you about the author's attitude toward the activity of the early settlers? What led you to make that inference?

  8. Analyze and Evaluate Symbolism • Lines 137-143 • What is the symbolic significance of the two images described: the devil gradually disappearing into the ground and the black, burned imprint of a fingerprint on Tom’s forehead?

  9. Reading Skills and Text Analysis • GRAMMAR AND STYLE: lines 173-177: The use of parallelism to show the three possible fates of Tom’s wife. • IMAGERY: lines 189-192: which images suggest that Tom’s discovery won’t be a pleasant one? • SATIRE: lines 199-207: How does Irving use satire to portray his view on women? • MAKE INFERENCES: lines 219-227: What can you infer about Irving’s view on slavery? • CHARACTER ANALYSIS: lines 198-210: Why does Tom keep comparing his wife’s loss to that of his property's? • SATIRE: lines 115-118: what do these lines tell you about the author's attitude toward the activity of the early settlers? What led you to make that inference? • CHARACTER ANALYSIS: lines 231-245: What do these lines tell you about the character of Tom Walker?

  10. Reading Skills and Text Analysis • SATIRE: lines 232-243: How does Tom Walker compare to the devil in terms of his merciless and greed? • SATIRE: lines 276-289: What kind of churchgoer is represented by Tom? What is Irving suggesting about this kind of individual? • IMAGERY: lines 341-345: What message do these images suggest about material possessions and those who seek them?

  11. Central Theme: Greed • Discuss theme of greed. • One of the seven deadly sins. • Do you know any modern movies or novels that circle the theme of greed? • The story of the Greek gods and King Midas. • Shortcut to Happiness also delves into the theme of greed and the idea of personal sacrifice. • Do you think that greed will ultimately lead to a form of self sacrifice? • Tom has to sacrifice his soul when he made the deal. Do you think he was thinking of the consequences when he made the deal?

  12. Central Theme: Greed • This theme of greed is known as Faustian literature. • This theme also appears in the movie The Devil Wears Prada. • Is the theme of greed in this story overpowering? Did this story lose its potency because the author put too much of his own beliefs into his writings? Would you trust this author? • Does satire help deliver the message or moral in the story? If not, is it a detriment or a distraction? • Do you have any stories that you know that include greed and sacrifice?

  13. Discussion • By the end of the story, Tom had become very religious in the hope of an escape from his bargain, yet he remained a usurer that charged too much interest. What does that say about his character? What does that say about his desires? • On page 330, Tom buries his horse upside-down so that, when the world turns upside down, he may still use his horse to run from the devil. What does that tell you? What kind of literary element is used here? Does it help the message that the author is trying to convey?

  14. Closing Question If Tom Walker could go back in time to the moment he met the devil, do you think that he would make the same choice? Why or Why not?

  15. Homework 1-page essay. Did Tom redeem himself into a God-fearing man or did he become a violent churchgoer simply to avoid a hellish judgment? Were his actions selfless or selfish? Thesis must be evident, clear, and concise. Must include quotations – with correct citation – from the text that support your thesis. A reminder: a thesis cannot be an answer to a question. You cannot use “I believe/think . . . “ as a beginning to your thesis; you must pose your thesis as a fact.