The Rifle by Gary Paulson

Essay by afrenc0328High School, 11th gradeA+, February 2008

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The book "The Rifle" by Gary Paulson is a book about a rifle made by a 1768 gunsmith named Cornish McManus, rifles in this time were not very accurate. It is said that there were rifles that came along once in a great gunsmith's life. These were called sweet rifles. They were much better than the standard rifle. A great gunsmith could only make one in his lifetime if he was lucky, and a bad gunsmith would never make one. These sweet rifles were ninety-nine percent accurate. But Cornish's rifle was one-hundred percent accurate. Cornish treasured the rifle but with a new wife he knew he had to sell it. The rifle went to a man named John Byam. Who would shoot down many officers and the Revolutionary War. John dies of a sickness, and the rifle is passed down to another owner and yet another and so on and so forth until one day, the rifle sits upon a mantel, loaded and ready.

The rifle is accidentally fired, started from a spark from the fireplace. The ball kills a young man. Who had a full and prosperous life ahead of him.

The accuracy of the rifle is proven when John comes and sees the rifle for the first time. He's interested and asks to test it. He shoots and cuts a tree limb eighty paces away and instantly falls in love with the rifle. He offers two horses and his packs, but Cornish only takes one horse. Throughout the Revolutionary War "Byam was, completely, deadly-so much so that a prisoner taken in by patrol said that the British high command was told to instruct officers heading for the front to make certain their wills were done and all things were in order with their families for surely they would die because the "ruffian Americans" did not know how to fight properly and were crudely aiming their fire that the officers "with telling effect"." (46-47). The book could be more convincing if John shot the rifle as a show and had done some trick shots, just to see how long the rifle would keep its amazing accuracy. Although the story centers around the handcrafting of the rifle and the unfortunate events that occur to its owners, Paulson includes some historical facts involving the American Revolutionary War. He speaks of the brutality and horror candidly. He depicts the war and its probable true unglamorous condition in which soldiers on both sides suffer from cold, starvation and sickness.

This particular critic found the book to be very enjoyable. However, it has a very sad ending and is not recommended for fairytale expectors. This book can teach people to always check guns if they are loaded or not.

Taken from the book "The Rifle" by Gary Paulson.