In "Rip Van Winkle," how did Rip react when he realised that everything had changed?

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Rip at first wonders, when he comes home from having been asleep for twenty years, if he is "bewitched." He believes he has been gone only one night, but everything around him seems changed. He notices too that the "character" of the people is different: rather than apathetic, they are "busy," energized, and politically engaged in a way they were not before his very long nap. When he says he is a loyal subject of the king, to his surprise people react angrily and accuse him of being a traitor.

As Rip realizes what has happened to him, he proclaims that he is old Rip Van Winkle. At first, the villagers think he is crazy, but when Peter Vanderdonk confirms his story, Rip's tale is accepted. His daughter takes him into her home.

Rip represents the old ways of the colonists under British rule. He is a relic of a former time, an apathetic contrast to the bustling and energized citizens of the new United States.

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We can't help feeling sorry for poor Rip Van Winkle when he returns to his "home" after his twenty year nap. He is quite clearly bewildered as he returns to his village to find so many differences and changes from what he had known. However, perhaps the quote that most clearly reveals his astonishment is when he asks if anyone knows a Rip Van Winkle, and he is directed towards a figure who we know to be his son grown up:

Rip looked, and beheld a precise counterpart of himself as he went up the mountain: apparently as lazy, and certainly as ragged. The poor fellow was now completely confounded. He doubted his own identity, and whether he was himself or another man. In the midst of his bewilderment, the man in the cocked hat demanded who he was, and what was his name?

Seeing such a "double" of himself completely silences Rip Van Winkle, and with this and all of the changes, he is not able to answer the question put to him, feeling unable to give his name or his identity.

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