Throughout "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Washington Irving's tone is that of the urbane, well-traveled sophisticate describing simple people in a rural backwater. He is critical of their attitudes and values, which he seems to find, appropriately enough, both sleepy and hollow.
In paragraph 7, he begins by saying that he mentions the place "with all possible laud," a clear sign that he is being ironic as when he later purports to extol Ichabod's erudition. He says that the reason for his praise is that this is one of the few places where "population, manners, and customs remain fixed."
This, however, is not a compliment. America was changing fast both in the early-nineteenth century when the story was published and, perhaps even more momentously, in the late-eighteenth century, when it is set. Washington speaks impressively of the "great torrent of migration and improvement" sweeping the country while Sleepy Hollow remains mired in superstition and ignorance.
The combination of stasis and...
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