Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Irving first describes the village as one of “great antiquity,” founded by the original Dutch colonists who settled in New York. The village rests at the foot of the Catskill Mountains and seems to be a charming and quaint place. Its people are friendly and–except for the henpecked Rip–happy. When Rip escapes from his wife’s nagging, he plays with the children of the village and runs errands for all the goodwives. All the village dogs know him and greet him. The familiarity and friendliness of the village before Rip’s sleep is shown so that Irving can contrast it with Rip’s return from the mountain. When Rip returns from his long nap, children stare at him and mock him, and dogs bark at him.
Before Rip’s sleep, the village had a “busy, bustling, disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquillity.” Rip returns when an election is taking place, and villagers want to know for whom he is voting. The town’s former tranquillity has been usurped by the new politics. Rip eventually comes to grip with these changes, even if he does not quite understand them. He even takes his place as a patriarch of the village on the bench. He settles into place and his new role, much like the new country he encounters.
Village inn. Besides moving the plot along, the changes in the village after Rip’s sleep also provide a pointed look at the changes in the new republic. Before Rip’s twenty year absence, the center of town was an old inn sporting a portrait of England’s King George III. On a bench in front of the inn, the elders and idle of the village would gather and discuss events. The innkeeper, Nicholas Vedder, presided over the gatherings and let his feelings on the discussions be known by how he smoked his pipe. Outside the inn stood a great tree that shaded the building. When Rip returns, the inn has changed, and definitely for the worse. Its great tree is gone, replaced by “a tall naked pole” from which hangs a strange flag. The old inn itself has been replaced by a “large rickety wooded building . . . with great gaping windows, some of them broken and mended with old hats and petticoats.” It is no longer the old country inn, but the Union Hotel. King George’s portrait has been painted over with one of George Washington.
*Kaatskill (Catskill) Mountains. New York range bordering the village. From the beginning of the story, Irving describes the beauty of the mountains and gives them a magical air as he describes them as “fairy mountains.” Rip goes up on a mountain to hunt and avoid his nagging wife. The mountain is also the home of the somber Henrik Hudson and his men who play at ninepins. In a hidden amphitheater, the strange little men drink wine and play their game. Rip also helps himself to the wine which leads to his twenty-year sleep. He awakens outside the amphitheater only to find the scenery changed. The use of the Catskills, a chain familiar to American readers of Irving’s time, helped to Americanize the German folktale.