For Dave, becoming a man meant being able to own and fire a gun. Dave felt, or believed, that owning a gun was synonymous to being able to stand up for yourself, or talk to him as though he were a little boy. Unfortunately, Dave focused on the benefits of having a gun instead of focusing on the responsibilities attached to owning a gun. In the course of his struggle for independence, Dave was able to convince his mother to buy a guy but only with the promise of immediately surrendering the gun to his father upon purchase. Naturally, Dave did not live up to this promise and instead tried the gun for himself.
And in doing so, he killed the mule of his employer and instead of proving himself worthy of being called a man, his peers saw that he was still not ready to take on the responsibility. In this story, we see different points of view on independence. How does one come of age? For Dave, it was owning a gun but for his parents, it meant being responsible for your actions. In the end, Dave proved himself that he met his own criteria of being a man by owning and firing a gun. But in the sight of many, he is still that man who was almost a man. Almost but not quite.