Compare the narrators of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

Expert Answers
ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calavaras County" there is only one narrator whose story forms the frame of the story. This narrator, who tells his story in the first person, gives a first hand account of a story he was told by Simon Wheeler who is supposedly telling a story he witnessed. Although the frame narrator is not impressed with Wheeler or his story, we tend to think of Wheeler and, therefore the narrator, as mostly reliable. However, there are at least five levels of narration in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". The title itself tips the reader off that the story is taken from a myth or legend and parts may or may not be true. After all, the story is being told by Washington Irving, but Geoffrey Crayon is the one who was supposedly responsible for collecting the story which was allegedly written by  Diedrich Knickerbocker who was told the story by  some

''pleasant, shabby, gentlemanly old fellow’’.

In the story itself, the characters tell stories that they either heard or read, but did not experience themselves. The the narrators of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" are very unreliable. In fact, by the end of the story. the vague, "gentlemanly old fellow" says,

''I don't believe one half of it myself.’’

Thus, it is ironic that the legend is given even half the credence it has garnered over the years because the narrators are so unreliable. In the "Jumping Frog" story, the narrator seems more reliable, but the irony comes from the story he is told and the story he expects to find about a Leonidas W. Smiley. Instead he is told about Jim Smiley and his jumping frog.

Read the study guide:
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question