What does Dave do with the gun when he brings it home, and what does he tell his mother when she asks for it?
Dave takes a long time to be granted permission to buy a gun, and only if he promises to bring it home directly and give it to his mother. However, Dave, an adolescent, has other plans.
He does not come straight home with the gun; "instead he had stayed out in the fields, holding the weapon in his hand, aiming it now and then at some imaginary foe." The gun makes him feel proud and strong, like a man, even though he admits that he does not know how to fire it and is afraid to wake anyone up.
He stays out so late that his parents are asleep when he returns. He lies to his mother when she wakes him up to ask for it by saying he had hidden it outdoors, and "would bring it to her in the morning." Of course the reader realizes that Dave has no intention of giving the gun to his mother. He leaves early to work with the hopes of finding time alone to shoot it, and after that, catastrophe strikes.