The Legend of Sleepy Hollow : book club discussion questions

Legend of sleepy hollow coverA fuller review of the entire collection in which this story is found was published in a previous post.

Remember, our discussion questions always contain spoilers.

  • Is there a character who is the hero of this story, beyond being a protagonist? That is, do you identify with Ichabod, or Brom, or Katerina?
  • Is there a romantic lead, in a genre sense? In early movie versions, Crane is a weedy, unpleasant sort, and Brom is so manly he could be in cigarette ads. Is this interpretation supported by the book?
  • Do Ichabod and Brom represent the city and the frontier? Why must the frontier win, to a contemporary of the author, for the work to have a rounded plot?
  • Is the plot slow, at the beginning, or does the mundane element lull you, so that the rest of the book has more impact?
  • Is this a plot twist book?  That is, do you read it as horror and then discover its actually in a different genre, as a caper book? Does that weaken or strengthen the ending?
  • Is Katerina, described as a potentially coquettish figure, believable, given that she is eighteen? Do you feel she was playing the men against each other?
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is presented as if it were a true account taken from the papers of a missing historian. Irving took out adverts in newspapers, pretending to be an innkeeper who the historian owed money to, and threatening to publish this manuscript unless he paid up, as a way of publicising the book. Can you think of any similar attempts to create buzz around a book or film?
  • Can this book be seen as an ancestor of the found manuscript, or later, found footage, trope? Why? Why Not?
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is, in some ways, similar to Austalian ghost stories, because many of them are set outside buildings. Do you know any good, local, ghost stories?
  • Is the setting important? Does the shadow of the Revolutionary War matter? Does the archaic nature of the ghost’s method of travel make the story more interesting to modern readers?

If you can think of further questions, or have answers, please comment.