The Rifle Test | Final 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. In Missouri, one of Richard Allen Mesington's neighbors tells him stories about what historical world event?

2. What does Harv Kline say after the "sweet" rifle accidentally discharges?

3. How does Richard Allen Mesington get along with Harv Kline?

4. When Richard Allen Mesington is fourteen years old he considers pursuing all of the following careers except?

5. How does Richard Allen Mesington think about firearms?

Short Essay Questions

1. How is Harv Kline characterized in the novel?

2. Tim Harrow owns the "sweet" rifle for a few days. He buys it, wraps it up in cloth, and trades it away a few days later. As a character, Harrow has no narrative function beyond transporting the rifle from point A to point B, just like Sarah, an editor, an antique dealer, and a gun collector. Yet the novel spends a significant portion of its space developing Harrow as a character. Why?

3. What message does the novel convey?

4. Sarah steals the rifle from John Byam as he dies; does Tilson steal the rifle from Harv Kline?

5. The novel summarizes the life that Richard Allen Mesinger "would" have had if he had not been killed. Is this a valid narrative technique?

6. Describe the chain of events that leads to the rifle being above Harv Kline's fireplace.

7. Was the "sweet" rifle fundamentally different from other rifles of the period?

8. What does Richard Allen Mesinger think about his neighbor Harv Kline's antique gun?

9. Imagine that you came into possession of the "sweet" rifle instead of Tilson. What would you do with the rifle if you did not know its history? What would you do with the rifle if you did know its history?

10. Describe the chain of events that leads to the rifle being accidentally discharged.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Describe the process of loading a muzzle-loading rifle. Describe why John Byam loaded the rifle the way that he did.

Essay Topic 2

Cornish McManus is described as an excellent gunsmith but an indifferent shot. Discuss how it is possible to be very good at one thing but not very good at something else that is closely associated.

Essay Topic 3

The novel infers the rifle has a will of its own--after killing Richard David Mesinger it sits in a gun cabinet "Waiting" (p. 105). Describe the narrative effect of this anthropomorphizing of the rifle. Why is the rifle treated like this?

(see the answer keys)

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