Compare the village before and after Rip's 20 years sleeping in "Rip Van Winkle."
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This is an intelligent question to ask about this intriguing short story that seems to offer some kind of reflection on the Americna Revolution and the independence from Britain that was achieved. Obviously, this is one of the central differences, and the fact that Rip Van Winkle went for his sleep before the Revolution and then woke up afterwards suggests that Washington Irving is trying to say something about it.
As Rip draws near towards his village he is started to see that he doesn't know any of the people that he meets and that they are dressed in a strange manner to his eyes. Superficially, the village itself has grown larger:
The very village was altered; it was larger and more populous. There were rows of houses which he had never seen before, and those which had been his familiar haunts had disappeared. Strange names were over the doors--strange faces at the windows--everything was strange.
His own house has gone to "decay" and the inn has changed as well, most importantly now bearing a picture of George Washington instead of King George and having changed its name. The people in the inn seem to have changed as well, as Rip Van Winkle notes in their conversation:
The very character of the people seemed changed. There was a busy, bustling, disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquillity.
Rip later finds out that some of his friends went off either fight in the war and some serve now in the new government. So, plenty of changes in the village have occurred. The question you need to ask is what Irving is suggesting through these changes.
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