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Plot in Rip Van Winkle

Plot Examples in Rip Van Winkle:

Rip Van Winkle

🔒 8

"One of these he seized and made off with it, but in the hurry of his retreat he let it fall among the rocks, when a great stream gushed forth..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

Even within the stories he chooses to contextualize “Rip,” Knickerbocker/Irving echoes back to the plot of his own tale. Just as the lost hunter takes a gourd, Rip takes from the flasks he is serving, and both actions summon mountain streams.

"“D. K.” POSTSCRIPT...."   (Rip Van Winkle)

The inclusion of stories collected by Diedrich Knickerbocker while on his travels further contextualizes “Rip Van Winkle” as part of the folkloric tradition of the Catskills.

"NOTE...."   (Rip Van Winkle)

At the conclusion of the story, which has taken the form of a potentially familiar folktale, Irving returns to the voice of Geoffrey Crayon to remind the reader of Knickerbocker’s “usual fidelity” to “absolute fact”—which, according to the preface, is probably not much fidelity at all.

"the great Hendrick Hudson..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

Henry Hudson (1565–1611) was an English explorer who traveled and sailed through the northeastern parts of North America. Commissioned by the Dutch East India Company to find a Northwest Passage to Asia, he navigated through what would become New York which led to the colonization of the area by the Dutch. Peter Vanderdonk claims Hudson and his crew are seen every twenty years. Since this is the same amount of time that Rip has been missing, it’s implied that the stranger carrying the liquor was a member of Hudson’s crew, and the leader of the men playing ninepins was Hudson himself.

"barked at him as he passed..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

Before Rip left for his jaunt, the children of the village habitually teased and played with him, and “not a dog would bark at him throughout the neighborhood.” Now as he returns, these two groups that should love him instead treat him with derision, and it is clear that whatever about him is out of place, it is more than simply his long beard.

"a mountain stream was now foaming down it..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

In folklore, running water frequently denotes a barrier between the magical and mortal realms or something over which magic cannot cross. Here it has replaced the site of Rip’s adventure, showing that any otherworldliness has left the glen.

"Having nothing to do at home, and being arrived at that happy age when a man can be idle with impunity..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

If reading “Rip van Winkle” as a fairy tale, this is the reward Rip has been given in exchange for helping magical beings complete a task. In this instance, Rip aided the strange man in bringing the keg to the hollow, and has been rewarded with the complete removal of the sort of personal responsibility he particularly disliked. He is essentially gifted a second childhood, where he is not expected to contribute to his home in any commercial way.

"Cardenier..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

The names in Rip’s village when he left were entirely Dutch in origin—Derrick Van Bummel, Nicholas Vedder, Brom Dutcher, Dominie Van Schaick. This introduction of the French “Cardenier” (and its familial erasure of his own name, as his son is not shown to have married) shows that the demographics of the town have also changed in his absence, and with them perhaps the prevailing cultural influences.

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