|Cover artist||Jennifer Jackman (photograph © Stockbyte/Getty)|
|Subject||U.S. history, rifles|
The Rifle is a 1995 novel by American writer Gary Paulsen. The novel is a work of historical fiction, written for a young adult audience. The story focuses on the history of a rifle crafted prior to the American Revolution, and on the lives of its various owners until the present day. Although Paulsen romanticizes the creation and the uniqueness of the rifle, the novel provides a sober reminder the importance of handling guns responsibly.
The novel begins prior to the American Revolution. A gunsmith named Cornish McManus, inspired by a piece of maple stock, crafts a rifle which turns out to be exceedingly accurate. Later, McManus is forced to sell the rifle, which comes into the ownership of a soldier in the Revolution named John Byam. After Byam's death, the rifle passes to a woman named Sarah, who stores it in an attic, where it is forgotten. The rifle passes through several owners, being lost, rediscovered, and sold as an antique. It ultimately comes to rest on the mantle of a mechanic named Harv, before it fires and kills a child.