“What You Pawn I Will Redeem” (Response Paper)
“What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie is the story of the mission of the humorous character of Jackson Jackson. Jackson Jackson is a homeless Spokane Indian in search of money to repurchase the regalia that was stolen from his grandmother about 50 years ago. He embarks on a journey to collect 999 dollars, the amount of money the pawnbroker is willing to sell the regalia for. Throughout this journey, the humorous character of Jackson Jackson unravels to reveal a man of culture. Although Jackson has left Spokane to attend college in Seattle, his Indian culture remains an important part of him. He constantly speaks of his Indian beliefs, ways, and customs. In the opening sentence, Jackson immediately acknowledges that he is Indian and differentiates his race from “hungry white folks” (8). As the story progresses, he uses many other statements to distinguish his race; he explains that Indians “don’t want to be perfect, because only God is perfect” (11). This distinctive Indian belief is used to prove that the regalia indeed belonged to his grandmother. Jackson’s culture also proves to play a substantial part in his decisions in regards to the money he needs for the regalia. Whenever he happens to gather a bit of money, it is always squandered almost immediately after, due to Jackson’s over-abundant sense of generosity. After winning one hundred dollars from a lottery ticket, he gives a fifth of it to Mary, the cashier in the Korean grocery store. At first, Mary refuses, but Jackson insists that it is, yet again, “an Indian thing” (18). His cultural sharing tendency also leads him to spend the remaining eighty dollars on whiskey shots for everyone at the bar. One can say that his decision was driven by alcoholism as well as ignorance, but the sense of family among those of his own race also impacted him when he decided that “[he] and his cousins [were] going to be drinking eighty shots” (18). Clearly,...
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