What are the physical descriptions and descriptions of the character Rip Van Winkle, before and after the history?the changes physical and geographical in the story

Expert Answers
sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems that there are two points to your question - 1) how does Rip Van Winkle change? - and 2) how does the community/landscape change?

Let me say that the story of Rip Van Winkle helps to demonstrate the evolution of the country of America.  In the beginning of the story, Rip is young and hearty and described as a very kind neighbor who can often be taken advantage of, either by his wife or his community.  In the end, he is wise old man with a long gray beard (as wise old men are supposed to have) and he becomes a friend to the young generation.  He represents "a chronicle of the old times 'before the war.'" 

While Rip has just grown old, the landscape has grown busier.  The Catskills and the general geography are described by Rip as being the same, but there are more homes and more people.  Indications of the events that have happened show in the replacement of King George's picture with George Washington's  at the inn.

There is a message in these descriptions.  Although details have changed in the landscape - indeed although a whole war has occurred - the people and the character of a place remain essentially the same.  The image of Rip sitting at the inn, "once more on the bench, at the inn door", is the best symbol of this continuity.