What You Pawn I Will Redeem

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In Sherman Alexie's, “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” an alcoholic, homeless Indian sets out on a quest to win back his grandmother's stolen regalia. The main character and narrator, Jackson Jackson, stumbles upon his stolen family heirloom in a pawnshop window and proceeds to spend the next day trying to earn enough money to buy it back. The pawnshop owner tells him he will sell it back to him for $999 and that he has 24 hours to come up with the money. Jackson gains small amounts of money here and there, but always ends up spending it on alcohol or food. When the 24 hours is up, Jackson returns to the pawnshop with only $5 to spend. The shop owner asks him if he worked hard for the small amount of money he had, Jackson tells him, “Yes,” and the owner gives him the regalia. Alexie illustrates to the reader how even though someone has nothing, as far as material possessions go; they still have their values and family. Jackson has nowhere to live, except the streets of Seattle, but he always keeps a fairly positive attitude and never seems to feel sorry for himself. He has nothing, but he makes friends wherever he goes. He feels a sense of camaraderie with other Native Americans, he has his group that he roams the streets with, he has Mary at the convenient store, and he has his friendly “good cop” Officer Williams. He talks about how “Indians like to belong,” so they all act like cousins, and explains to Mary that she is family to him and describes a tribal tradition to share your wealth with your family. Even though in the end he still doesn't have any money, he earns the regalia back because of “hard work” that basically consisted of Jackson sharing with everyone around him regardless of who they were. One sub-theme of the story is the strife of the modern Native American and how many are still overcoming their difficult past. Jackson runs into several Indians from different tribes, but they all have a sense of belonging together. They have all had difficulties...
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