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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

by Washington Irving

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What are two things that Icabod would do to make himself useful to the farmers in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"?

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In the exposition of Irving's classic "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Ichabod Crane is introduced to the readers. Rather than being a fine instructor of youth, Crane is more the martinet, passing "with indulgence" a stripling of a tree upon his students with regularity and vigor. Yet, Crane joins the older boys after school hours as he "lived successively a week at a time" with them. While he enjoys the cooking of the mothers, Ichabod knows that he needs to prove his worth to the "rustic patrons" of the schoolhouse because they "are apt to consider the costs...a grievous burden." So, he helps the farmers with the lighter chores such as

  • mending fences
  • gathering the cut grasses and making hay
  • chopping firewood
  • bringing the cows in from the pasture
  • watering the horses

These tasks are all that a boy could perform. Indeed, Ichabod Crane changes from the hard taskmaster in the schoolhouse to the "gentle and ingratiating" male who finds "favor in the eyes of the mother" as he rocks her babes and pets the little children.  Of course, all this is done with ulterior motives as the ravenous Crane is invited to join in bountiful suppers and feasts. His gluttony may make reference to the growth of American Manifest Destiny that the Romanticist Irving criticizes. 

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