Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories

what does the story want to say?

Rip Van Winkle

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I think death and decay is a major theme. In β€œRip Van Winkle,” when Rip returns to his village after twenty years, not only has his friend Nicholaus Vedder died, but his tombstone has already decayed past the point of recognition. It's the circle of live. What lives must die and in time they become a footnote in history or a scratched name on a tombstone. It is not natural for Rip to live so far into the future.