Among the letters of the now dead “Deidrich Knickerbocker”, is found the story of “Rip Van Winkle”. In “Rip Van Winkle” a henpecked husband named Rip Van Winkle, wanders off deep into the Katskill Mountains, where he meets up with a man carrying a cask of liquor up a hill. After a few drinks and a game of “9 Pins” with Henry Hudson’s magical crew “The Half-moon”, R.I.P. falls asleep. When he wakes up 20 years has past, his dog “Wolf” is gone and his gun is rusted (he thinks it’s a changeling). He carries it down the mountains, enters his favorite Hangout/Tavern, where a portrait of King George 3rd has been revised to look like General Washington; in the streets everyone itches their chin because he has a beard hanging off it a foot long. He meets up with his Daughter and her Husband and they all decide to live together.
By writing Rip’s wife as a shrew-like woman, Irving sets up a corollary between Rip’s wife (Dame Van Winkle) and the controlling British occupiers of Colonial America, which aligns Rip’s personal liberation with that of Colonial America. A direct link between an Imperial government and Rip Van Winkle’s opinion of his wife is made in the story. In the same way that the colonies are transformed into independent America, Rip’s transformation into an old man (during which time Imperial Britain’s “yoke” has been thrown off America), is accompanied by the liberating death of Rip’s wife (i.e. he is no longer hen-pecked with no one to hen-peck him). The hints of Rip’s infidelity to his wife, correspond to the pro-revolution (unloyal) characters that old Rip encounters in his favorite tavern; the women of the village, too, used to employ him to run their errands and to do such little odd jobs as their less obliging husbands would not do for them. Likewise, the new Americans were unloyal (at least in sentiment) towards their controlling force.