Where’d He Go?

Washington Irving’s, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is no stranger to children who grew up hearing scary stories. I personally remember a kind of re-telling of the story of the Headless Horseman, but reading it for the first time now, I had no idea how different it was! What was really interesting about the story was what happens to Ichabod Crane at the end. It left me a bit confused. Was he alive? Ran away in shame? Dead?!

The story portrays Crane as a kind of social elite. He was seen as this gentleman, someone so desirable and fearless. However, the townspeople’s perspective of him was very external. Deep down inside, like many of us, he has fears that keep him up at night. He’s easily scared and paranoid at times. So when he encounters the Headless Horseman, it is no surprise that he had that heart-pounding reaction. I would be shaking in fear as well!

I truly believe that Brom Bones was behind all of this and Crane was still alive. After the incident Irving writes,

an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a visit several years after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure was received, brought home the intelligence that Ichabod Crane was still alive; that he had left the neighborhood partly through fear of the goblin and Hans Van Ripper, and partly in mortification at having been suddenly dismissed by the heiress; that he had changed his quarters to a distant part of the country; had kept school and studied law at the same time; had been admitted to the bar; turned politician; electioneered; written for the newspapers; and finally had been made a justice of the Ten Pound Court. Brom Bones, too, who, shortly after his rival’s disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina in triumph to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.

Crane ran away not only in fear of the situation, but the consequences he might need to face had he stayed. The town would hear about the news, as they did, and continually talk about him. Since he had such a respectable image, he was worried the scare would change everything for him. As we read further, we see why he was so concerned. Even without him people were talking.

Brom Bones “knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.” This man, known to be a jokester and in love with the same woman as Crane, saw it as the perfect opportunity to tarnish that spotless image of his  opponent in order to win over  Katrina Van Tassel. It was the biggest form of embarrassment and it worked!

Sadly enough, it shows the lengths one can take just to get what they want. It was pretty cruel of Bones to do so (if he really, actually did) instead of giving a fair shot at courtship.

The clip comes from Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It caters to the interests of children and turns the scary story into a sort of a spooky musical. The tone is definitely less scary as the traditional campfire style telling. Yet, scary enough to give a child the visuals and fear of the Headless Horseman. It also really sets the tone of the story and how the town is interested in legends and tales of ghosts and monsters.


5 thoughts on “Where’d He Go?

  1. I believe the same way that Brom Bones is behind Crane’s missing. He is strong and with perfect riding skills. He can easily act like the headless horseman. He wanted to get rid of Crane, because Crane seemed to be the only enemy. Maybe the “headless horseman” said something to Crane and forced him to leave Sleepy Hollow and that made sense. Crane was so timid and Bones didn’t have to kill him to take a risk of being captured.
    I like the video clip about this vision of legend. It is certainly a Disney vision because I watched a lot of disney cartoons when I was a child. It is not that horrible towards children, but telling the story in a right way, which makes childern interesting in ghosts and monsters.


  2. I also agree that Ichabod most likely ran away to escape the situation but I wonder how much if anything the old farmer said about his later life can be believed. It seems that despite his things not working out he managed to leave town and create a quite amazing life for himself. I find that part of the story a little hard to believe and in a way it also casts doubts if Ichabod really did escape town and create a new life for himself. Perhaps it was a ruse to deflect any attention of his disappearance or perhaps Ichabod simply had the old farmer lie for him to boost image among his old acquaintances.


  3. Hi Clarissa!
    One thing in particular that you said really stood out to me:

    “The story portrays Crane as a kind of social elite. He was seen as this gentleman, someone so desirable and fearless.”

    I kind of got a different feel about Crane’s personality and social standing, so I am really curious as to what drew you to this conclusion! They way I saw it, he was kind of this weird guy who was far too cocky, only cared about money and getting out of Sleepy Hollow, hung around older woman a lot, thought about everything in terms of food, and, like you mentioned, was a bonafide scaredy cat.
    That being said, I can’t really figure him out, and I would really like to hear more about why you think people saw him as desirable and fearless.

    Either way, your post was really cool- I totally thought of the Disney movie, too!



    1. Hi Sami!
      As I read the story, I started to see how he was “othered” in a sense. Still, I described him as desirable and a kind of gentleman because cockiness is a confidence game. You are completely right, he is weird and selfish, but because he saw himself as the complete opposite, I sort of thought the townspeople would play along with it as well. Crane had guts (not that tough, courageous kind… but the one that takes a lot of strength to be as confident as he was). He might of not sold it well to the others, but hey, I wanna give the man credit for trying ;). Hope that explains a bit of why I thought of him that way. Thanks for the helping me dig deeper into my thoughts!


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