The Rifle Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What event in American history does Tim Harrow know the most about?

2. What kills Tim Harrow?

3. What type of grease does Cornish McManus use to lubricate his patches?

4. How much force does it take on the trigger to fire that "sweet" rifle that Cornish McManus builds?

5. What does Cornish McManus use to polish the bore of his "sweet" rifle?

Short Essay Questions

1. Do you think that John Waynewright would have valued Cornish McManus's "sweet" rifle?

2. Cornish McManus is a superb gunsmith with great vision and skill. Describe his shooting ability.

3. The novel spends many pages describing the construction of the rifle. Do you have a clear mental image of the processes involved in hand-making a muzzle-loading rifle?

4. Do you think that John Byam "got his money's worth" out of the "sweet" rifle?

5. In reading the novel, do you think of the "sweet" Rifle as a character or as an object?

6. The cover image of several common editions of the book shows a left-handed flintlock rifle. Does the book describe the rifle as being left-handed?

7. Why does it take Cornish McManus so long to build the "sweet" rifle?

8. The "sweet" rifle shoots a .40 caliber ball; most rifles of the period shot a much, much larger ball. Does the small caliber of the "sweet" rifle reduce its killing capability?

9. Why do the British hang Cornish McManus?

10. What was the leading cause of death among American Revolutionary War soldiers?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Why does the novel spend so much time characterizing Richard Allen Mesinger? After all, his interaction with the rifle lasts less than one second and the narrative makes it clear that Mesinger never even knew he was being killed. Within the narrative, what difference does it make that Mesinger was who he was?

Essay Topic 2

The novel argues that during the Colonial period rifles were needed tools but that in today's society they are no longer useful. Discuss this contrast.

Essay Topic 3

Why does the novel "need" to have the accidental discharge come from an old muzzle-loading, black powder rifle? Wouldn't the novel work just as well with an AK-47 hanging above Kline's mantel? Why or why not?

(see the answer keys)

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