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Rip van Winkle Short Summary

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Rip van Winkle is a short story composed by American author Washington Irving. It highly borrows from European folktales. It is a story about a man living close to the Catskill Mountains within New York sometime before the Revolution war. He falls asleep for 20 years only to wake up and find that a lot has changed about his small town. The following is a condensed summary of the text:

A Synopsis of the Story

Rip is a popular figure in his hometown. However, his calm personality and lazy mentality towards work earn him frequent nags from his wife named Dame Van Winkle. He is quick to assist others in their work but does nothing at home. Their kids are indiscipline as well. This aggravates his wife the more. To avoid the nagging, Rip often stays away from home.

One day, he decided to go hunting with his pet dog, wolf. While at the woods, Rip runs into a man pushing a keg up the mountain. He offers to assist him in ferrying the keg to the mountain top. Suddenly, some weirdly-dressed people who are apparently from the past appear and are seen playing some bowling. Amidst their company, Rip decides to taste the keg. He soon dozes and falls into a deep sleep.

Upon waking up, he finds everyone had long gone, and he is a lot older. Rip tries to look for the wolf to no avail. Upon falling hungry, he retires back home to his wife. However, he discovers that a lot has changed in his village. Both the buildings and the inhabitants are unfamiliar to him.  When he reaches home, he finds it dilapidated.

He then decides to go to a local inn and tries to introduce himself. The villages then call Peter Vanderdonk, the oldest in the village to identify Rip. Fortunately, Peter recognizes him and explains all about his disappearance. Peter states that Rip met Henry Hudson’s spirit. Henry was the pioneer of Dutch settlers in the area. He further elucidates that once in 20 years, Henry and his crew known as the “Half Moon” appear in the Catskill Mountains for a vigil to watch over the village.

Villagers buy into Peter’s story, and Judith decides to host Rip. However, he continues with the same behavior he had before. Rip’s story becomes very famous, but it is only the Dutch villagers that believe in its authenticity.

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