As Ichabod rides to the Van Tassel party, Irving uses personification to indicate how his eccentric hero will behave in this social setting. A seemingly insignificant blue jay on the side of the road becomes a stand-in for Ichabod:
[…] the blue jay, that noisy coxcomb, in his gay light blue coat and white underclothes; screaming and chattering, nodding and bobbing and bowing, and pretending to be on good terms with every songster of the grove.
Throughout "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Irving hints that Ichabod is a social oddity whom his neighbors tolerate and indulge. By giving the blue jay human traits—a suit of clothes and an obsequious personality—and letting readers make the connection between man and bird, Irving demonstrates how Ichabod acts in public without openly disparaging him. The jay’s noisy singing and fawning behavior model how Ichabod is about to behave at the party.