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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Who is Baltus Van Tassel in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"?

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Baltus Van Tassel, a happily married, prosperous Dutch farmer in the Hudson valley, is the father of Katrina, the object of Ichabod Crane’s affection (which is not unmoved by her father's status). Balt is described as “contented,” “satisfied,” and “reasonable.” He is fond of smoking his pipe and appreciates the abundance that farm life provides for him and his family. An “excellent father,” he loves and indulges his daughter. Balt is limited in his horizons, as he has rarely traveled beyond the farm or the nook in which it is nestled, but he is contented because there “everything was snug, happy and well-conditioned.” When he and his wife throw a party at their home, they lay out a lavish spread, and the jolly, affable host encourages everyone to enjoy themselves. Balt particularly enjoys swapping the wild local legends with the other elders who are, like him, war veterans.

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Baltus Van Tassle is the rich farmer of Sleepy Hollow. He has a beautiful daughter, Katrina, who is the heiress of all he owns. He represents the patriarch of money and the ever-growing middle class of the New World. He is happy and jolly! He is also a heroic patriot, having fought in the Revolutionary War and survived. Not only did he survive, but he is the epitome of the American dream. With hard work and determination, he was able to start a family and a farm in the Dutch community, only to succeed and represent all that is available to those back in the Old World.

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