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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The fate of Ichabod Crane after leaving the Van Tassels' party


Ichabod Crane's fate after leaving the Van Tassels' party is left ambiguous. He mysteriously disappears after being chased by the Headless Horseman, with some speculating he was spirited away or met with foul play. Others believe he fled the town out of shame and fear, eventually moving to another area to restart his life.

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What do you believe happened to Ichabod Crane?

Great question for the discussion board!

I just finished teaching this story to my American Literature II course and we discussed what could have happened to poor Ichabod!  

In my opinion, Ichabod was "kidnapped" by Brom Bones and taken to an undisclosed location, where he was told to leave town or be physically hurt (I do not believe Brom Bones would have threatened to kill him) because he and Brom Bones were rivals for Katrina's affection.  I do not believe that the Headless Horseman was real...I definitely think that Brom Bones was behind Ichabod's disappearance.  After being threatened by Brom Bones, I believe Ichabod immediately left town without looking back!

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What happens to Ichabod Crane after leaving the Van Tassels' party?

After Ichabod Crane departs from the Van Tassels' party, he encounters the Headless Horseman, the ghost of a galloping Hessian horseman whose head was blown off by a cannon-ball in the Revolutionary War. This apparition is seen off and on by the country folk as it hurries along in the night as though on the "wings of the wind," and it gives chase to the local schoolmaster, sending him away from the area.

Ichabod Crane is an established part of the community, as he engages in activities with the older boys after school who have older sisters or mothers who are good housewives and will invite him for dinner. Crane is also

an odd mixture of small shrewdness and simple credulity. His appetite for the marvellous, and his powers of digesting it, [a]re equally extraordinary; and both ha[ve] been increased by his residence in this spellbound region.

When Ichabod Crane, who teaches psalmody, is invited to the Van Tassel home by Katrina, one of his students, he is thrilled to think of the culinary delights he will be able to eat. In fact, the pedagogue's mouth begins to water at the sight of the bounty before him in the van Tassel mansion.

His rival for Katrina's wealth and affections is also a guest. Nevertheless, the opportunistic Crane does not despair because Brom Brummel is present and has been making quiet advances for some time to Katrina. Because Ichabod will not engage in any activity that will openly confront Brom, 

it left Brom no alternative but to draw upon the funds of rustic waggery in his disposition, and to play off boorish practical jokes upon his rival. 

On the night Ichabod enjoys the feast at the Van Tassels, the Yankee songmaster finds himself confronted with the sinister ghost of the Hessian warrior, which drives the superstitious songmaster out of Sleepy Hollow. As Ichabod tries to elude the horseman, the headless trooper throws his head at the songmaster, striking Crane in his own head. Crane falls to the ground as the "head" of the horseman, which is really a pumpkin, shatters on the earth. Thus, Ichabod Crane is defeated by the stalwart, athletic, and truly affection Dutchman, who is among the settlers.

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What happens to Ichabod Crane after leaving the Van Tassels' party?

Ichabod Crane is looking forward to the party at the Van Tassels', so much so that he hurries through his lessons at school so that he can get home as quickly as possible and dress up for the big occasion. Ichabod is looking forward to the opportunity to show off his dancing skills in front of the elite members of local society. And of course, he wanted to impress the Dutch heiress Katrina Van Tassel, whom he so desperately wants to be his bride.

Ichabod greatly enjoys himself at the party, not least because some of the men, including his amorous rival, Brom Bones, sit around sharing ghost stories. Ichabod likes a good ghost story and happily reads out to the other men large extracts from Cotton Mather's History of New England Witchcraft. Ichabod is very much in his element as he regales the throng with supposedly real-life tales of witchcraft.

After the party breaks up, however, the fun stops for Ichabod. He manages to have a brief conversation with Katrina Van Tassel. Readers don't know exactly what is said during this chat, but whatever it is has left Ichabod feeling deflated. It appears that Katrina has cooled on the notion of becoming Ichabod's bride.

In any case, whatever Katrina may have said to Ichabod, it is the least of his worries. Not very long after leaving the party, he finds himself being chased by what appears to be the legendary Headless Horseman. During the party, one of the men had told the tale of the Headless Horseman, which was subsequently embellished by Brom Bones, who claimed that one night he engaged in a race with the "Galloping Hessian," whose ghost is believed to be the Headless Horseman. And now it seems to the ever-superstitious Ichabod that it is this very same horseman that is now in pursuit of him. Ichabod tries to outpace the horseman, urging his own mount, Gunpowder, to quicken his pace. But near the church bridge, Ichabod turns and sees the horseman throwing its head at Ichabod. His attempts to dodge it are too slow, and it strikes Ichabod across the head, knocking him to the ground. The Headless Horseman rides past and is gone.

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