“The Devil and Tom Walker” is based on the age old dilemma of selling ones sole to the devil. Tom pledged both himself and his morals to the devil for the sake of riches and wealth. Tom and his wife made a deal with the devil, and both in the end were damned to hell. These mistakes took time to develop before really injuring Tom.
Tom is considered one of the author’s least likeable characters. As he is described in the story he is eccentric and miserly. The only reason why he doesn’t instantly strike a deal with the devil Old Scratch is the fact that he loathes his wife so much. Tom states that he might have felt compelled to sell his soul to the Devil if it would not have pleased his wife so much. After confiding to his wife that Old Scratch would help him become rich beyond his wildest dreams, he decides against this partnership because Old Scratch wanted Tom to become a slave-trader.
Tom's wife is a tall "termagant" woman, one who is fierce of temper, loud of tongue and strong of arm. She is as just miserly as her husband, and they both plan ways to cheat each other. When she finds out that her husband has declined the offer from Old Scratch, she decides to go into the forest and bargain on her own deal with the devil. The only time Tom ever talks to his wife is when he tells her of the deal set by Old Scratch.
Old Scratch is the guise for the Devil, who appears in "The Devil and Tom Walker'' as a dark-skinned man. Readers are told, however, that he is neither Indian nor white. He has deep red eyes, wears a red sash, and carries his axe on his shoulder. He is the one who tempts Tom Walker with the proposition of wealth and who ultimately condemns him to ride a horse through the swamp where they made their bargain.