How does the inn reflect the political and social changes that have taken place in the country as a whole?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In short, Rip sleeps through the American Revolution, and the place where he wakes up is very different than it was when he fell asleep. Among the most obvious manifestations of this change is the inn, where he used to hang out before his extended nap. The inn, in Rip's...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In short, Rip sleeps through the American Revolution, and the place where he wakes up is very different than it was when he fell asleep. Among the most obvious manifestations of this change is the inn, where he used to hang out before his extended nap. The inn, in Rip's younger years, was a place where "idle personages of the village" sat around and talked all day about "village gossip, or telling endless sleepy stories about nothing." Nicholas Vedder, an aged man, was the landlord of the inn, and he essentially was the patriarch of the village, to whom the men gave respect. When Rip goes to the inn after waking up, everything is different. The "ruby face" of King George that was on the sign is still there, but his clothing has been changed from red to blue, he holds a sword instead of a royal scepter, and the name underneath his image is now GENERAL WASHINGTON, a name that is unfamiliar to Rip but reflects the political changes wrought by the Revolution. The leisurely, lazy men who sat in front of the inn in the old days are replaced by a group with a "busy, bustling, disputatious tone about it." Instead of talking about gossip and old news, they hotly debate politics. Nicholas Vedder, the old patriarchal proprietor of the inn, has been replaced by another old man, this one an active politician who seeks his vote.

With these changes at the inn, Irving suggests that the American Revolution that Rip managed to sleep through has created tremendous change. Through the inn, he characterizes colonial society as sleepy, static, and patriarchal in nature, while the new United States is dynamic and rapidly changing.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Politically, the inn obviously represents life before the American Revolution and life afterwards.  In the narrator's first description of the inn, he points out the

"rubicund portrait portrait of his majesty George the Third" (Paragraph 13),

demonstrating that before Rip's "deep sleep," the colonies are still under British rule.  When Rip wakes up and eventually resumes life in the small community, he returns to the inn where

"instead of being a subject of his Majesty, George III., he was now a free citizen of the United States" (Paragraph 61).

Irving's description of Americans no longer being under the yoke of despotism parallels his discussion of Rip no longer being under his wife's domination.

Socially, changes also abound.  The inn once represented a place where Rip sat and listened at the feet of the inn's patriarch (Paragraph 14), but after 20 years, Rip is considered a patriarch. Rip takes Nicholas Vedder's place at the inn door, where he

"was reverenced as one of the patriarchs of the village, and a chronicle of the old times 'before the war' " (Paragraph 61).

America, a brand new country, is looking for its history, and so Rip seems to now have a place in society as one who can remember what life was like under British rule.

Finally, another social change is the freedom that Rip experiences because of his wife's death.  This metaphor represents the freedom that Americans felt after being out from underneath British tyranny.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team