Discuss how "The Country Husband" and "Rip Van Winkle" are basically the same story . . . or at least similar.

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both stories take place in New York state. Diedrich Knickerbocker notes that "Rip Van Winkle" has to do with Dutch history. Francis Weed, the narrator in "The Country Husband," returns to the "Weeds' Dutch Colonial house." Both stories involve a war. Rip returns following the Revolutionary War. Francis recalls his service in World War II. These wars change the country but for some, such as Rip and Francis's neighbors, nothing has changed. Clayton Thomas notes that Shady Hill is a place that "doesn't have any future."

Both Francis and Rip are friendly with their neighbors. But Francis does not care for many of his neighbors and is rude to Mrs. Rightson. Rip, on the other hand, goes to his neighbors willingly. He enjoys helping them and this gives him an excuse to get away from his wife. Francis would rather daydream for his escape.

Rip certainly does his best to avoid his scolding wife. Francis's family life is also unsatisfying. His wife is kind but is preoccupied with going out to social events and his children and he do not get along. When he returns and tells his family of the plane crash, they ignore him. Although Rip does not have the romantic infatuation that Francis does with Anne, his home life is also unsatisfying.

Francis shows an impulsive side with Mrs. Wrightson and shows it even more when he hits his wife. Rip is much too mild to do such a thing. When Julia threatens to leave, Francis begs her to stay. If Rip's wife had tried to leave, Rip would have happily let her go. There are clear similarities and clear differences.

Francis is having a midlife crisis. Rip doesn't seem to have a crisis at all. He simply finds ways of escaping the unsatisfying parts of his life.

Both men come back miraculously from strange events. Rip returns after a 20 year sleep and Francis survives a plane crash. In the end, both men return to what they were. Rip is without a wife, but he continues on with his old hobbies. Francis stays with his family and uses the commonplace hobby of woodworking in order to give him something productive to do. These shocking, miraculous events in their lives give them the opportunity to start again. But they inevitably remain the same.