A "simple good-natured fellow... and an obedient hen-pecked husband," Rip Van Winkle is a kind but "meek" man who loves to play with the children of the village. He is popular with the village women, who recognize the hard nature of his wife and "took his part in all family squabbles." He is popular with the men as well, since Rip is always ready to help a neighbor.
In a word Rip was ready to attend to anybody’s business but his own; but as to doing family duty, and keeping his farm in order, he found it impossible.
However, his wife thinks he is lazy--his farm land is in ruins and he spends little time with his own children. He prefers to sit at the local inn, talking with local villagers--he is a wonderful storyteller--or hunt and fish with his loyal dog. After his long sleep in the woods, Rip awakens to find himself with a long beard, and his wife dead.
There was a drop of comfort, at least, in this intelligence.
Moving into the home of his daughter, Rip returns to many of his old habits, and he is often found sitting at the inn, telling stories to the "rising generation" who are happy to listen to his tales.