What is the conflict in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main plot conflict in this story is between Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones over the lovely Katrina. Both men want to marry this young woman. She can only pick one to be her husband.

Ichabod Crane is an outsider and scholar who comes to teach in the village school. He is effete and superstitious whereas Brom is manly and openhearted. Crane wants to marry Katrina for the wrong reasons: he lusts after her family wealth. Brom, in contrast, loves Katrina for herself.

In the climax of this classic trickster tale, Brom uses his wits and pragmatism to defeat his rival. He scares Crane away by playing on his superstitious fears when he creates a dreaded "headless horseman" with a pumpkin.

This outward conflict highlights the differences between the robust ways of a new young country, exemplified in Brom, and the backward-looking sensibility of Crane's more European mindset.

morrol eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" has two main conflicts. These conflicts present themselves as stark contrasts. The first conflict is found in the contrast between the bustle of the city, and the openness of the countryside. These two settings, and the connotations they have, are at odds with each other throughout the novel. The second conflict is represented by the two main male characters in the novel. It is the conflict between brains and brawn. Both of these conflicts are dealt with and enhanced by Irving's wonderful use of imagery.

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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