The Trees in “The Devil and Tom Walker”

Alexander Mrs. Mayes English III (H) September 4, 2012 The Trees in “The Devil and Tom Walker” There are these trees that are dark, tall and gloomy and have names on them. The names on the trees are of the Great Men of the Colony. The names are on the trees because the men sold their souls to the Devil. In the story, “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving there is this man that some people call “The Black Woodsmen” or “The Blackman” that runs this forest of souls that has been turned into trees. In this story, the trees symbolize that they are gravestones, and that they also symbolize the people in the story.

Not only do these trees symbolize the people in the story, they symbolize how the trees and the Great Men of the Colony are rotting from the inside out. When one of these trees is getting cut down, the person is slowly dying, and then when the tree falls they automatically fall dead as well. These trees act as a gravestone because of the names carved on them, and how they are scattered throughout like a graveyard. The fact that these trees are dark and gloomy also helps you think of a gravestone in a graveyard.

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The trees are also symbolic of death as well as the people in the story and gravestones. When one of the trees in this story is cut down, the person whose name that is on that tree starts dying at every scratch the tree gets. When the tree is completely cut down, the person will fall dead wherever they are standing. In this story, if you don’t listen to the Devil your life all depends on a tree. One day Tom is walking through this forest and runs into “The Black Woodsman” while sitting on a stump that was recently cut down, and had the name Absalom Crownisheild on it.

Well, he gets scared, goes home, and the first thing his wife tells him is that Absalom Crownishield is dead, and that is when he realizes that the forest is dangerous. He tells his wife about the forest, and then she goes to make a deal with the Devil but never comes back. When Tom goes looking for her, he sees her checkered apron up in a tree and realizes when he goes after it that it’s her heart and liver. He realizes then what the Devil has done, and sells his soul to the Devil.

At the end of this story the trees get caught on fire by lighting, and Tom also dies and haunts the forest because he sold his soul to the Devil. When you think of the word “trees,” you don’t think about death, gravestones, or the Devil. No, you think about life, color, and happiness. Well in Washington Irving’s story “The Devil and Tom Walker,” the story isn’t meant to be happy, colorful, and alive it’s meant to be dead, gloomy, and sad. In this story, the trees symbolize death, gravestones, and the Great Men of the Colony. In this story, your life all depends on these dark, gloomy rotting trees.

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