Pawn/Redeem

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Ellen Vorsatz

Professor Autumn Newman

English 100

13 March 2013

To Pawn or To Redeem

For hundreds of years, writers have fascinated the world with their talent of creating stories to entertain, inform, persuade and educate a specific audience. Two very popular fields represented in writing are societal and individual issues; these fields include the sub topics of depression, alcoholism, homelessness, etc. Writers who compose literature in the style of prose, short stories and other fiction based writings often incorporate serious matters to connect with their audience in an entertaining, yet informing, way. Realistically, any successful person tends to pass off taking any action to help alleviate societal issues such as homelessness because it is not their problem. A well-known poet and writer, Sherman Alexie, has portrayed the seriousness of homelessness and alcoholism through his short story What You Pawn, I Will Redeem. From his experience of growing up on a Spokane Indian reservation in Washington, he was able to create a short story about a homeless Native American man, Jackson Jackson, and his journey to reclaim his grandmother’s regalia. Moreover, by applying Barnode’s personality vocabulary from Making Sense of People, I was able to analyze Jackson’s actions, as well as his reactions to others and his surroundings, to define his personality.

Despite his forlorn lifestyle, Jackson often takes advantage of the multiple opportunities to befriend a stranger through his outgoing and kind characteristics. When scratching a cheap lottery ticket, Jackson discovers he has won one hundred dollars to put towards his grandmother’s regalia. However, instead of saving all of the money Jackson gives the cashier twenty dollars back and explains, “It’s tribal…an Indian thing…when you win, you’re supposed to share with your family…” (9). Even though the cashier is neither a stranger nor a part of Jackson’s family, he extends his heritage’s customs to those who have shown him great kindness. The atypical gesture Jackson shows reflects Barnode’s Agreeableness traits of kind and generous plus the Extraversion trait of outgoing. According to Barnode’s, Agreeableness is defined as “the tendency to be altruistic, cooperative, and good-natured” (17). The remaining eighty dollars Jackson obtains, he walks into a dive bar and exclaims, “Me and my cousins here are going to be drinking eighty shots…five drinks for everybody!” (10). Although Jackson continues to share his wealth and shows he is outgoing and good-natured, he is revealing signs of being considerate and compassionate. When Jackson offered to take a group of Aleut Native Americans to breakfast, he assertively told the waitress, “I’m paying…bring us all the breakfast you can plus your tip” (16). Once again, Jackson befriends strangers by showing consideration and compassion. Through acts of kindness, generosity, compassion and consideration, Jackson is defined as an Extravert as well as an Agreeable person in Barnode’s Big Five. Even though half of Jackson’s personality is established through the Big Five, his idiosyncracies can be further analyzed through Barnode’s Top Ten troublesome patterns.

Antisocial, avoidant, borderline, compulsive and dependent are just a few examples of the Top Ten troublesome patterns. The relationship between Barnode’s Big Five and Top Ten is the way the Big Five is scored; for example, Jackson Jackson is shown to score highly in Agreeableness from his selfless actions. Even though Jackson’s actions are munificent towards others, he continues to spend the regalia money on useless items such as alcohol and fails to maintain any kind of relationship with others. Thus, the Top Ten defines Jackson as Borderline. Barnode’s delineates this pattern as “a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions, and marked impulsivity” (30). In Jackson’s past, he has been “…married two or three...
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