In the beginning of the story Dave works for old man Hawkins on his farm. His mom gets him up every morning to work in the plow fields. His mom doesn’t think he is grown up enough to keep up with his money, so she keeps it for him. Dave wants to become a “man”, so he plans how to get a gun. He constantly thinks about how buying a gun will make an adult. He feels that the gun will give him the power of a man. He wants the people in the field to respect him. He also feels that his mother does not treat him like an adult and the gun would make her treat him as one.
Dave goes down to old man Hawkins’ store and tells him he wants a gun. In surprise, old man Hawkins has one that he would like to sell for two dollars so Dave borrows the Sears catalogue to bring home and show his mom. Dave doesn’t have money, so he plans to ask his mother to get money. Dave is too scared to ask his father for fear of rejection. His mother thinks that he is totally insane and wonders why he needs a gun. He keeps telling his mom that it can be for his dad since they don’t have one at the house. After begging and pleading like a little baby, his mother finally agrees to allow Dave to buy a gun but under the conditions that he must bring it straight back to her after he buys it and return it to her every night before he goes to bed. That night, he sleeps with the gun by putting the gun under his pillow. It shows how much he likes the gun; just like a little boy getting a new toy.
The next morning, he gets up an hour early to try out his new gun. Dave latches up Jenny the mule and heads to the plow field. He plows two rows before he decides to fire his new gun. He knew if he was out there that no one could hear him so, he untied the gun and looked in all directions. Then, he held the gun out arms length, closed his eyes, and pulled the trigger. Jenny starts bucking and running across the field. Dave calls to her but cant stop her. He tries to run after her but when he gets to her he finds blood pouring out of her side. She goes down on her knees and slowly passes away.
The way Dave goes about dealing with the problem is childish. He panics and decides to lie about what really happened. He makes up a story which he knows nobody will believe, yet he feels that if everyone does believe him he can avoid his problems more easily. He tells the workers and Mr.Hawkins that Jenny went wild and fell on the plow. No one believed him and the workers kept saying it was a gunshot wound. When his mom arrived she asked him where the gun was and his dad didn’t know he had a gun. His dad shook him till his teeth rattled telling him to tell the truth. Dave starts crying and tells the truth that he didn’t mean to shoot Jenny, he looked up and she was bleeding. Mr.Hawkins told Dave that it “Looks like yourself bought a mule”. Mr.Hawkins wanted 50 dollars for the mule and said he could keep working and pay him two dollars a month. His dad told him to return the gun and take him the first two dollars to pay on the debt.
Instead of being a man and doing the right thing he decides to make yet another bad decision. He leaves the house in the middle of the night to find his gun. He digs it up in the fields and finds four more unused cartilages. He believes that if anyone can shoot a gun than he can too so he shoots off all the bullets he has and then gets on a train to somewhere so he can be a “man” and get the respect he feels he deserves. What I think the author was trying to prove here even though he had the gun and felt like a man his decisions throughout the story proved that he was still lacking in maturity. No one can buy respect, you have to earn your respect in the right ways.