drawing of the headless horseman holding a pumpkin and riding a horse through the woods

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

by Washington Irving
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In Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," why do the women of the countryside think Ichabod is an important person?

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Not only are the women of Sleepy Hollow all spellbound by the area's fascination with superstitious stories, but they are also products of the time period's social hierarchy. That hierarchy is shaped like a triangle. At the bottom of this triangle are all the lower class (working class) people. Above...

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Not only are the women of Sleepy Hollow all spellbound by the area's fascination with superstitious stories, but they are also products of the time period's social hierarchy. That hierarchy is shaped like a triangle. At the bottom of this triangle are all the lower class (working class) people. Above the working class are people from the high middle class who are like Baltus Van Tassel. Van Tassel has a large farm and enjoys the riches expected from a rural community. Above him would be Ichabod Crane because of his education. Education wasn't something that was easily gained past 8th grade during those times, so anyone with a college education was considered a part of the more advantaged part of society. Finally, above Crane on this social hierarchy, is the parson because he too has a higher education than the average rural farmer and is the spiritual leader of the community. Thus, the women, who pay attention to such matters, view Crane as an authority figure and leader of the community. To invite him over to their homes for dinner would be considered an honor, as if a celebrity were visiting their homes.

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