What is an example of a symbol in "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving?

Expert Answers

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

An example of a symbol in "Rip Van Winkle " would be the Union Hotel that replaces the Inn after the Revolutionary War. The Inn, with its sleepy owner and picture of King George III, symbolizes the passivity and inactivity of the time when the United States was a...

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

An example of a symbol in "Rip Van Winkle" would be the Union Hotel that replaces the Inn after the Revolutionary War. The Inn, with its sleepy owner and picture of King George III, symbolizes the passivity and inactivity of the time when the United States was a set of colonies under British rule. It is a symbol of inactivity because the narrator tells us Rip Van Winkle goes there to join "idle personages" in the village and talk "about nothing." In contrast, the new Union Hotel that replaces the Inn is a place that symbolizes the energy and patriotism in the new nation. The tree the old inn's owner use to sit under has been replaced by a flagpole flying the stars and stripes of the American flag and a picture of General Washington has replaced George III. The men inside are busily debating the upcoming presidential election, not simply sitting around sharing old news. Words describing what is going on inside the Union Hotel like "bustling" and talk of "rights of citizens ... elections" show the patriotic energy of the new nation. 

In a nutshell: the Inn is a symbol of the sleepy, passive times before the American Revolution. The Union Hotel, with its American flag, portrait of Washington and busy people inside is a symbol of the new energy of the new country. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team