The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
A strong, plucky, mischievous young man and major rival to Ichabod for Katrina Van Tassel. Brom Bones (whose full name is Abraham or Brom Van Brunt) loves to play practical jokes, get himself into duels, and brag about his exploits. His very name reveals his brute strength and contrasts with Ichabod’s spindly figure and fearful spirit. But Brom Bones is largely harmless, and the townsfolk both admire him for his muscle and roll their eyes at him for his immaturity. However, Brom Bones may be cleverer than he appears. He pays close attention to Ichabod’s fear of ghosts and goblins, and the story suggests that it may very well be Brom Bones who chases after Ichabod in the guise of the Headless Horseman, carrying a pumpkin for the spirit’s head. If his plan was to chase Ichabod away from Katrina, it worked: Brom Bones does end up marrying the damsel.

Brom Bones Quotes in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The The Legend of Sleepy Hollow quotes below are all either spoken by Brom Bones or refer to Brom Bones . 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:
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow published in 1999.
Main Story Quotes

I mention this peaceful spot with all possible laud, for it is in such little retired Dutch valleys, found here and there embosomed in the great State of New York, that population, manners, and customs remained fixed, while the great torrent of migration and improvement, which is making such incessant changes in other parts of this restless country, sweeps by them unobserved.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones
Page Number: 274
Explanation and Analysis:

This story takes place around 1790, not long after the end of the American Revolutionary War. At the time the United States of America was just coming into being as a unified nation, and many people continued to feel greater allegiance to smaller, more contained areas, whether the "great State of New York" or even a certain town or group of descendants sharing a common heritage, such as here the Dutch. The end of the eighteenth century saw many great changes sweeping the country, but here Knickerbocker seems to prefer the old-time charm of a town where little has changed. Furthermore, linking the town's heritage to the Dutch allows Irving to give a greater scope of history to his story—the U.S. was still very young as a country, but Americans holding on to their Dutch roots would have a much longer history to look back upon.

Of course, as has already been suggested by the apparition of the Headless Horseman—headless from a Revolutionary War battle—even such a town forgotten by time as Sleepy Hollow is not exempt from historical change. Indeed, Knickerbocker seems to be stretching the historical truth in order to situate his tale within a particular frozen moment in time, where the rules of modernization and of objective history may not apply as they do, increasingly, in the rest of the land. 

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Legend of Sleepy Hollow quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

Brom, who had a degree of rough chivalry in his nature, would fain have carried matters to open warfare and have settled their pretensions to the lady, according to the mode of those most concise and simple reasoners, the knights-errant of yore,—by single combat; but Ichabod was too conscious of the superior might of his adversary to enter the lists against him.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:

Knickerbocker has introduced us to Ichabod's "adversary" in his fight to win the heart and the hand of Katrina: Brom Bones, another inhabitant of the region. Brom Bones and Ichabod Crane could not be more different—where the latter is fanciful, timid, and easily frightened, the former is rational, confident, and belligerent. Knickerbocker portrays Brom Bones as in some ways a relic from an earlier time, when conflicts would be resolved through man-to-man fights and brute strength was considered the greatest weapon in one's arsenal (even in the battle for a woman's heart). Here, Ichabod is shown to be shrewd, even if he cannot compete with Brom on that level: knowing that they are not well-matched, he prefers to wage battle on a more indirect front. Still, it is difficult to know whether or not Ichabod is underestimating Brom by only considering him as an adversary in brute force rather than also one in trickery and strategy.

The story was immediately matched by a thrice marvelous adventure of Brom Bones, who made light of the galloping Hessian as an arrant jockey.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Brom Bones , Headless Horseman
Related Symbols: Head of the Headless Horseman
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

Many of the guests at the Van Tassel party are discussing the most famous superstition of the region, that of the Headless Horseman, who was killed in the Revolutionary War and now gallops around chasing anyone who crosses his path. They have just related the story of old Brouwer, who didn't believe in ghosts until he met the Horseman one night and was chased by him, ending up being hurled into a stream.

Brom Bones, as usual, seems entirely unaffected by the frightening tales swapped by the others. He takes the opportunity to remind everyone of his own prowess as a horseman and of his inability to be conquered even by a malicious ghost. Only by the Horseman vanishing at the last minute, Brom claims, did he fail to capture and unseat him. Brom thus makes clear to Ichabod, among others, that he is not someone to be trifled with. However, his "making light" of the situation also suggests that he has escaped at least some of the bewitching influence of the region. By making fun of the Headless Horseman rather than duly expressing awe and fear of the apparition, like the others, he shows himself to be firmly anchored in reality and factual accounts of history—in other words, seemingly not a "true" citizen of Sleepy Hollow.

He saw the walls of the church dimly glaring under the trees beyond. He recollected the place where Brom Bones’s ghostly competitor had disappeared. “If I can but reach that bridge,” though Ichabod, “I am safe.”

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones
Related Symbols: Head of the Headless Horseman
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:

After leaving the party, Ichabod is confronted by a towering figure on horseback. Soon, with dread, he realizes that it is a headless body on a horse carrying its head in its saddle. The horseman pursues Ichabod through the dark paths and towards the church. Ichabod remembers this church from the story told by Brom Bones: it was there that the horseman had disappeared, so it is there that he believes he will be safe.

Ichabod thus is shown once again to embrace the tales told by fellow Sleepy Hollow inhabitants as historical truth, even though he knows that Brom Bones is prone to bragging. Although he mistrusts Brom Bones as a competitor for Katrina Van Tassel, Ichabod is credulous enough to accept his story, especially since the tale has been echoed in other versions by so many other guests at the party. These tales have become Ichabod's own reality, and he acts for his own safety in line with this reality.

Brom Bones, too, who, shortly after his rival’s appearance 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.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Brom Bones , Katrina Van Tassel
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:

Much of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has been concerned with the competition between Brom Bones and Ichabod Crane to win the hand of Katrina Van Tassel. Here, Brom Bones is shown to have won that battle, as he marries her and gains access to her father's estate and wealth. Even without facing Ichabod in direct, face-to-face battle, Brom has managed to conquer him. At the same time, it is suggested that Brom is much wilier than others, including Ichabod, believed. Brom is unable to fully hide his satisfaction at Ichabod's abandonment of the village, insinuating through his laugh and knowing looks that his own plot was at work in driving his rival away. 

The narrative thus suggests that greater knowledge might be what can do away with supernatural beliefs. Brom is able to dismiss the fear of the marvelous because he knows what really happened that night with Ichabod (perhaps), while the other inhabitants of the village must resort to other beliefs.

Get the entire Sleep Hollow LitChart as a printable PDF.
The legend of sleepy hollow.pdf.medium

Brom Bones Character Timeline in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The timeline below shows where the character Brom Bones appears in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Main Story
War and Battle Theme Icon
His most daunting opponent is Abraham Van Brunt, a strong, broad-shouldered, powerful young man nicknamed Brom Bones . Brom Bones is known for being a skillful horseman and an excellent racer, fighter,... (full context)
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
War and Battle Theme Icon
Brom Bones is also in pursuit of Katrina, which discourages other candidates, who withdraw in despair. But... (full context)
War and Battle Theme Icon
...some are won over easily, while others are variable and require constant struggle to vanquish. Brom Bones seems not to be able to exclusively conquer Katrina’s coquettish heart. He comes less and... (full context)
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
...few of the daughters boast a slightly modern addition like a ribbon or straw hat). Brom Bones stands out from the crowd with his horse Daredevil, a mischievous creature like himself. (full context)
War and Battle Theme Icon
...are amazed at the sight. Ichabod is thrilled to have Katrina as his dancing partner. Brom Bones sulks jealously in the corner. (full context)
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
War and Battle Theme Icon
...at which point the Horseman turned into a skeleton and hurled Brouwer into the stream. Brom Bones , in turn, claims that he also raced the Horseman once for a bottle of... (full context)
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
War and Battle Theme Icon
...breaks into a trot and the horseman trots along behind him. Ichabod immediately thinks of Brom Bones ’ story about racing the Headless Horseman, but when he quickens his pace, his follower... (full context)
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
War and Battle Theme Icon
...that if he can reach the bridge the ghost will disappear, as it did for Brom Bones , and he’ll be safe. Gunpowder leaps onto the bridge, and Ichabod reaches the other... (full context)
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Brom Bones married Katrina shortly after Ichabod’s disappearance. He tends to put on a knowing look anytime... (full context)