Rip Van Winkle

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The Inn Symbol Icon
The inn is where, prior to Rip Van Winkle’s long sleep, he and other townspeople spend their days. The inn functions as a locus for unproductive activity, and represents the peace and rest of the past, before America violently revolted against the King of England and began to vigorously build itself as an independent nation. The old innkeeper Nicholas Vedder spends the whole day sitting under the shade of the big tree, moving when the shade moves. His pursuit is of tranquility and nature, rather than productivity and profit. Schoolmaster Derrick Van Bummel wastes his considerable mental faculties debating events in outdated newspapers with others at the inn, and the inn is where Rip avoids his wife and his domestic duties. The inn is a figure for passive resistance and idle amusement. A sign bearing the face of King George III overlooks the activity of the inn. It becomes symbolic and significant especially in its oppositional relationship to the establishment that replaces it, The Union Hotel.

The Inn Quotes in Rip Van Winkle

The Rip Van Winkle quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Inn. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tyranny vs. Freedom Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Rip Van Winkle published in 1999.
“Rip Van Winkle” Quotes

How solemnly they would listen to the contents, as drawled out by Derrick Van Bummel, the schoolmaster, a dapper, learned little man, who was not to be daunted by the most gigantic word in the dictionary; and how sagely they would deliberate upon public events some months after they had taken place.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Derrick Van Bummel
Related Symbols: The Inn
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we're introduced to the "wise man" of the community, Derrick Van Bummel. Derrick claims to be an educated man (although Irving never gives us any real evidence that he is), and spends long hours at the Inn talking about the "news" that he finds in old, discarded newspapers.

The passage does a good job of subtly conveying the disjointedness of life in Rip's community. Rip's town as a whole is isolated from the rest of the world--even when the people get their hands on a newspaper, it's hopelessly out of date. It's as if the entire town operates on a different schedule than the rest of the world. In other words, Rip isn't all that different from his town itself. For the time being, Rip lives in a place that enables his lazy, unproductive, but overall pleasant way of life.


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The Inn Symbol Timeline in Rip Van Winkle

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Inn appears in Rip Van Winkle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“Rip Van Winkle”
Tyranny vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Active vs. Passive Resistance Theme Icon
Labor vs. Productivity Theme Icon
...his angry wife is to escape his home. Rip used to enjoy going to the inn and participating in idle talk with his neighbors. Much of the conversation is simple town... (full context)