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One element not mentioned in the examination of Washington Irving's story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is point of view. This story and "Rip van Winkle" are both from Irving's The Sketch Book. Both tale are supposedly handed down from
the papers of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker, an old gentleman of New York, who was very curous in the Dutch history of the province and the maners of the decendants from its primitive settlers. His historical researches, however, did not lie so much among books, as among men...
Thus, the tales of Knickerbocker are handed down, and Irving presents himself as the narrator of one of his tales. So, he is narrating a story that has told to Knickerbocker. Then, within the tale told thrice, the characters in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" tell stories themselves, with all the narrators being unreliable. Without any reliable narrator, Irving has fun having Ichabod Crane frightened by the story of the Headless Horseman, a story within a story.
Clearly, the emotional distance that all these unreliable narrators create keeps the reader from empathizing with any character. In this manner the humorous tone prevails as the reader, then, focuses more upon it. And, it is this humor as Irving describes the unlikely figure of Crane who supposes himself a courter of Katrina van Tassel and who ingratiates himself to the old wives of the community that has made this story distinctively American and a favorite for many generations.
In this story, the climax or turning point comes when Katrina Van Tassel scorns Ichabod Crane and falls instead for Brom Bones.
Because this is the climax, of course what comes before is the rising action. In particular, the rising action follows Ichabod as he and Brom compete for the love of Katrina.
The falling action is what comes after the party at Van Tassel's. Ichabod leaves the party and then mysteriously disappears after having seen the headless horseman.
With Ichabod out of the way, the story resolves with Katrina marrying Brom and we are left to wonder if Brom was really the headless horseman.
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