The Devil and Tom Walker

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The pirate who, before the action of the story begins in 1727, buried treasure in the swamp near which Tom Walker and his wife live. Kidd never enjoyed the fruits of his evil labors, however; shortly after burying his treasure, he was arrested in Boston, sent to England, and hanged for his crimes of piracy. His black fate anticipates those of all the ruthlessly greedy characters in the story.

Captain Kidd Quotes in The Devil and Tom Walker

The The Devil and Tom Walker quotes below are all either spoken by Captain Kidd or refer to Captain Kidd. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Greed Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Devil and Tom Walker published in 2008.
“The Devil and Tom Walker” Quotes

The devil presided at the hiding of [Captain Kidd’s] money, and took it under his guardianship; but this, it is well known, he always does with buried treasure, particularly when it has been ill-gotten.

Related Characters: Old Scratch, Captain Kidd
Related Symbols: Old Scratch’s Swamp
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

The short story opens with a description of Old Scratch's Swamp (Old Scratch is what Tom calls the Devil later on). Here we learn that this swamp is the hiding place for Captain Kidd's gold. This description reveals the themes of secrecy, trickery, and greed that the story will go on to explore. 

Old Scratch guards the gold so that he can use it to tempt greedy souls like Tom and his wife to sin. In this way, he himself is an usurer (someone who lends money, often at high interest) just like Tom Walker - he offers people gold to tempt them into bankrupting their souls.

Captain Kidd is representative of all of the greedy characters in the story. Their efforts to accumulate money serve only to ruin them in the end, because, as we know from this quote, all "ill-gotten" treasure eventually ends up back under the Devil's guardianship. 


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Captain Kidd Character Timeline in The Devil and Tom Walker

The timeline below shows where the character Captain Kidd appears in The Devil and Tom Walker. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“The Devil and Tom Walker”
Greed Theme Icon
...which huge oaks grow, under one of which, as the old stories have it, Captain Kidd the pirate buried a great amount of treasure. It is also said that the devil... (full context)
Greed Theme Icon
...prevalent in New England, humbling many proud sinners to their knees. Near the inlet where Kidd buried his treasure there lives, in a forlorn house with an air of starvation about... (full context)
Greed Theme Icon
Wealth, Religion, and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Storytelling as Moral Instruction Theme Icon the former makes his way home through the swamp. Old Scratch tells Tom of Kidd’s buried treasure, and offers to place it within Tom’s reach “on certain conditions,” which, though... (full context)
Greed Theme Icon
Tom shares with his wife all that transpired in the swamp, and mention of Kidd’s hidden gold awakens the miserly woman’s greed. She urges her husband to accept Old Scratch’s... (full context)
Greed Theme Icon play his cards, after all. At length, however, when Tom is most desperate for Kidd’s treasure, willing to agree to anything, he meets the Black Woodsman again one night, at... (full context)
Greed Theme Icon
Usury Theme Icon
Storytelling as Moral Instruction Theme Icon
...this day one can see the hole under the oaks which Tom dug in recovering Kidd’s treasure, and even now the swamp and old Indian fort are haunted on stormy nights... (full context)