The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Style and Technique

Washington Irving

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Irving’s version of this folktale features an effective series of starvation images that begins with his lengthy description of the gaunt, cadaverous Ichabod and extends to the almost physical hunger that his protagonist feels when he sees the rich produce of Van Tassel’s land. Indeed, Ichabod’s mouth waters as he contemplates this wealth and dreams that it might be his.

Complementing the starvation imagery is Irving’s choice of names. Ichabod is tall and as gaunt as the crane whose name he shares. Like the biblical Ichabod, Irving’s protagonist is as much an outcast as is his Old Testament namesake. Similarly, Brom, whose given name is Abraham, is as much a patriarch of his people as is the father of the tribes of Judah.