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Plot in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Plot Examples in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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"has often fancied his voice at a distance, chanting a melancholy psalm tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow...."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

In the intriguing final paragraph, Diedrich Knickerbocker offers a final analysis of the story that favors superstition and legend over rationality. Knickerbocker concedes to the interpretation of the “old country wives,” according to whom Ichabod Crane fled due to supernatural forces. Most fascinating of all is that Crane himself comes populate the other spirits and ghosts of the hollow. His story turns into a supernatural tale of its own, which tells us something about how fact turns into fiction and, in turn, into legend.

"was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin;..."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

Knickerbocker offers the possibility that Brom Bones was responsible for the event of the Headless Horseman. Bones himself most likely dressed up as the horseman, and—humorously enough to him—used a pumpkin to simulate the legendary unattached head. Brom’s motive for running Ichabod Crane out of town is clear enough: he preferred not to have any competition for Katrina’s hand in marriage.

"and close beside it a shattered pumpkin..."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

The shattered remains of a pumpkin suggest that Crane was struck in the head by a pumpkin, not the disembodied head of the horseman. This evidence calls into the question Crane’s assumptions about the chase as it unfolded.

"The wavering reflection of a silver star in the bosom of the brook told him that he was not mistaken..."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

The image of a single star is an ancient symbol for one’s goal, hope, or aim. For Ichabod Crane, the reflection of the star in the direction of the church indicates to him that he is headed on the correct course to safety. That the reflection is “wavering,” however, in the waters of the brook indicates that his hope and aim are uncertain.

"and bethought himself of the adventure of Brom Bones with the Galloping Hessian, now quickened his steed..."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

Ichabod Crane realizes, as the reader may have already suspected, that the demonic figure before him is equivalent or related to the “Galloping Hessian” of the local legends.

"and, shutting his eyes, broke forth with involuntary fervor into a psalm tune..."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

Crane begins singing a psalm, a biblical song, at the sight of the horseman. This singing is both a release of nervous energy as well as an invocation of divine protection in the face of danger and evil.

"tulip-tree..."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

The tulip-tree is a symbol for where the supernatural arises in the reality of the story. The tree is personified as a giant human and carries with it the grim tale of Major André. The tree is an important milestone in the story, for it signals a transition into the realm of the supernatural, as if the tree itself were a kind of portal.

"and smiling graciously in reply to all his amorous oglings..."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

In a surprising moment, Katrina appears somewhat drawn in by Crane’s advances. The diction here, particularly the word “ogling,” suggests that Crane’s behavior remains boyishly inappropriate. The word “graciously” indicates that Katrina accepts Crane’s advances, even if she does not reciprocate his feelings.

"like the cap of Mercury,..."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

Mercury, the Roman messenger God, wore a winged cap to assist in his flight around and through the worlds of both the living and the dead. That this man wears a Mercurian hat is fitting—no pun intended—in that he is delivering a message important to Ichabod Crane’s fate, and thus channeling Mercury’s divine role.

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