Why did Irving choose to have Rip Van Winkle sleep for the 20-year span of the American Revolution?
Rip van Winkle has come to be symbolic of a person who is oblivious to changes around him. By having his protagonist in "Rip van Winkle" sleep for twenty years, remarkable changes have been wrought by the time that Rip awakens. While he is young, the Kaatskill Mountains area is part of the thirteen original colonies with King George ruling. After Rip awakens and returns to town, he sees a sign over the tavern that reads, "George Washington" and he is absolutely baffled. Yet, despite all the political and social changes, Rip--oblivious as ever--
now reseumed his old walks and habits; he soon found many of his former croneis, though all rather the worse for the wear and tear of time; and preferred making friends among the rising generation, with whom he soon grew into great favor. having nothing to do at home, and being arrived at that happy age when a man can be idle, with impunity, he took his place once more on the bench at the inn door...the changes of states and empires made but little impression on him...
Only his freedom from the "petticoat government" relieves Rip. Governmental changes in the country interest him not.