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When Rip van Winkle returns from his twenty-year sleep, he is not met with the Puritan scolding "volley from his wife" or her "torrent of household eloquence"; his war has ended with her just as the Revolutionary War has concluded. Then, when he enters his house and it is "empty, forlorn, and apparently abandoned," Rip feels a desolateness that is similar to his realization that all his old friends, Nicholaus Vedder and Brom Dutcher among them, are gone.
Rip's heart died away at hearing of these sad changes in his home and friends, and finding himself thus alone in the world--every answer puzzled him...by treating of such enormous lapses of time and of matters which he could not understand--war--Congress, Stoney Point--
This desolateness extends also to the inn where the picture of King George III has been replaced by another George: General Washington. Rip neither knows the people or recognizes the discussions about Congress, Bunker's hill, the "heroes of Seventy-six," and other words. So, while freedom has been achieved on two fronts, there is a nostalgia for the past regarding both in the heart of Rip van Winkle. For, while there was conflict with Dame van Winkle and conflict with England when America was a colony, yet there was a certain stability provided by both his wife and family and England.
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