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Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" describes schoolmaster Ichabod Crane's encounter with a ghost in rural New York during the late 18th century. It juxtaposes this ghost story with an idyllic picture of life at this time, thereby enhancing the effect the ghost creates and the personal impact it has upon Ichabod.
The greater part of the story's first half is concerned with establishing Ichabod's character and the life he lives. We are quickly informed of his gangly appearance, as well as his love of food, and his infatuation with Katrina Van Tassel and the bounty of her father's estate. His rivalry with Brom Bones is introduced, and has produced some conflict, but has not yet come to a head; he is still primarily concerned with winning over Katrina, and the invitation to the Van Tassel's party seems like a fine occasion to win a few points in her favor.
Irving never directly states "Ichabod was in a good mood!" or anything direct at all, but we may infer Ichabod's mood through the actions and the author's focus in leading up to the party, as well as a few key lines.
- As soon as Ichabod is informed of the party (in the middle of the school day), "the scholars were hurried through their lessons without stopping," implying that Ichabod is basically kicking them out early so he'll have enough time to properly get ready for the party. He goes on to spend extra time dolling himself up, and borrowing a horse, so that he'll make a proper entrance. From this we can guess that Ichabod is probably a little anxious to make a good impression.
- As he rides to the Van Tassel's, Ichabod observes various scenes of idyllic beauty; the colors of autumn in the trees, the many birds and their calls, the variety of food ready to be harvested (much to his delight) and the sunset over the Hudson river. The depth of description and prose that Irving dedicates to these paragraphs seem to be setting this up as a perfect evening, and the scenes before him certain to lift Ichabod's spirit.
- Finally, when he arrives at the party, Ichabod observes the "pride and flower of the adjacent country" - everyone looking their best. Once inside, he takes in the sight of the banquet that has been set out for the guests; this can only serve to increase his happiness. As Ichabod sets to work on the food, we are told:
He was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in proportion as his skin was filled with good cheer, and whose spirits rose with eating, as some men's do with drink.
So we can assume that Ichabod arrives at the party in a good mood, pleased with his ride, ready to make a good impression, and it only gets better from there.
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