Analysis Of The Book ' The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow '

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The characters Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones in Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” are an example of two American types, brains and brawn. The brainy American type is intelligent, book smart, and usually thin and tall. The brawny type is characteristically strong, muscular, and street smart, but not necessarily book smart. These descriptions epitomize Irving’s characters Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones. Ichabod Crane is an example of the American type, brains. He is a school teacher, or as Irving describes him, “a pioneer of the mind.” (535) He reads books about witchcraft and believes in the supernatural. Irving says, “…he had read several books quite through, and was a perfect master of Cotton Mather’s history of New England Witchcraft, in which…he most firmly and potently believed.” (537) Crane is awkward on a horse. His physical characteristics also are common of this type. He is tall, lanky, and wears baggy clothes that make him look like “some scarecrow [that] eloped from a cornfield.” (535) He has to use his brains to fight because he has no physical attributes that would allow him to win in a fight. His supernatural beliefs made him almost paranoid. Irving explains, “How often did he shrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the frosty crust beneath his feet.” (538) During this time period, the land was still primarily an unexplored frontier. Survival was more dependent on exploring and clearing land, and hunting. Being a schoolmaster was not a lucrative career. Ichabod Crane lived with other people, as Irving mentions, “The revenue arising from his school was small, and would have been scarcely sufficient to furnish him with daily bread…but to help out his maintenance, he was according to co... ... middle of paper ... place, strength was more important than book intelligence. The nation was vastly an open frontier and transportation was by horseback. Hunting, exploring, and fighting to survive were necessary traits that a man would need to be successful. Being smart did not ensure success or survival. Brains versus brawn is a conflict that has been going on throughout American history. The time period in which “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” takes place makes a difference because physical strength and horsemanship were valuable traits. Reading books, intelligence, education and even being a school teacher did not ensure success or survival. Brom Bones, having the brawn, made him the envy of men in that time period. He also was not submitted to the tales of witchcraft and supernatural that, the educated, Ichabod Crane was, and therefore was able to use it against him to prevail.

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