The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Summary and Analysis

11462 Words Jan 6th, 2013 46 Pages
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Summary and Analysis

Major Themes

Veracity in Storytelling
Veracity in storytelling is a defining theme of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The story is distantly removed from the reader—Crayon has found the story in Diedrich Knickerbocker’s papers, who is dead, and who at the end of the story writes that he heard it from an old gentleman, who claimed to not have even believed half of it himself, ultimately getting much of the story from primary or even other secondary sources. Thus, even where the story is told with confidence, the narrator has given us reasons to doubt evrything. We become critical readers, unlike Crane, who believes the ghost stories he reads.
The narrator also admits to complete ignorance
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It is still apparent here, however. Sleepy Hollow is an old town inhabited mostly by descendants of its original settlers. This would seemingly make it prone to family prejudices, a younger parallel to the European aged communities, yet there is no evidence of this kind of hierarchy. Instead, people are valued for their merits, such as their book learning or their ability in teaching, activities requiring strength, or singing.
Katrina Van Tassel is desired by almost every eligible young man in Sleepy Hollow, being the rich farmer’s daughter. In Europe, her lack of title would have limited those who would be interested in her to others of similar status, but in America (or at least this sleepy town) her abundance of resources, combined with her good looks, youth, and charm, are enough to make her very desirable. This is more of a unique money issue than a general class issue. Even as the most desired bachelorette in the neighborhood, moreover, she ends up choosing between a well-liked but irresponsible and rowdy young man, with no fortune that we know of, and a very poor and homeless school teacher with an obsession with ghost stories.
In their community, Ichabod is recommended by his comparatively good education; Brom, by his physical skills and likable personality. Their titles, families, and even money are not explicitly brought into consideration. This contrasts greatly with, for example, “The Pride of the Village,” another story in Irving's collection, in