In Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," what two thingss make it difficult for Ichabod to fulfill his dream of marrying Katrina?
Ichabod takes great care in his appearance, as he gets ready for the party at Baltus Van Tassel's. What is funny about the horse he is riding as he starts off like a knight in a quest of adventures?
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The frail Ichabod has a formidable foe in Brom Van Brunt, "the hero of the country round." This man has Herculean strength, and "his advances were signals for rival candidates to retire." Irving writes that
a stouter man than he [Crane] would have shrunk from the competition, and a wiser man would have despaired.
However, Ichabod decides to make his advances in "a quiet and gently-insinuating manner." Brom no longer "tied at the palings on Sunday nights," but he carries out his feud with Crane by playing practical jokes on the schoolmaster, such as stopping up his chimney. His "scoundrel dog" has been taught to whine in a ridiculous manner whenever Ichabod instructs Katrina in psalmody. Nevertheless,when Ichabod receives an invitation to the Van Tassel's he decides to attend. Like Don Quixote who fancied himself a knight-errant, Ichabod makes his appear "before his mistress in the true style of a cavalier," having borrowed an old horse who was
gaunt and shagged. [His] rusty mane and tail was tangled and knotted with burrs; one eye had lost its pupil, and was glaring and spectral; but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil in it...he bore the name of Gunpowder...Ichabod was a suitable figure for such a steed.
With his decrepit-looking horse, Ichabod rides like a jockey, having shortened his stirrups. Ichabod rides with his elbows "stuck out like grasshoppers'" and as the horse trots, his arm flaps like a pair of wings. There he is overwhelmed by all the food-laden tables and decides to ask Katrina for her hand. But, he soon leaves after approaching his would-be bride. As he rides home, he become edgy from having listened to so many ghosts stories. The superstitious Crane is then chased by the headless horseman. Ichabod sees the horseman throw his head at him, and then is knocked on the ground, falling unconscious. On the next morning, he does not report to school, and is never seen in the village again.
Washington Irving's humorous descriptions and vivid images make "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" a most entertaining story and it is this humor which readers most enjoy. The critic William Hedges observes,
the method of this story is to heap up images of abundance and contrast Sleepy Hollow's amplitude with the meagreness of Ichabod Crane's body and spirit.
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