Study Guide

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Wealth

By Washington Irving


A lot of "Sleepy Hollow" is kind of like a 19th-century episode of Cribs. We get a pretty good idea of what Baltus's pad looks like, and—well, it's pretty awesome. But just like with everything else in the story, Irving calls into question what being rich really means. Can Baltus really be rich if he doesn't live in a marble-floored mansion with mountains of gold and silver? Or is being wealthy just having more than enough to get by? Wealth separates the hungry and skinny (Ichabod) from the full and fat (Baltus), but can anyone really go hungry when trees are overflowing with fruits? Irving leaves those questions for you to figure out.

Questions About Wealth

  1. What makes someone wealthy in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"? Is anyone really poor? Why or why not?
  2. Imagine Baltus is a rich old man today. What might his home look like? Does wealth mean something different today than it did in the 19th century?
  3. Irving sure does talk about the bounty of nature a lot. What do all of these images of apples, corn, and other natural goods really mean?

Chew on This

With "Sleepy Hollow," Irving is making fun of what it means to be "rich" in America as compared to Europe.

Wealth is deeply connected with nature in "Sleepy Hollow."