Sherman Alexie’s What You Pawn I Will Redeem

Topics: Sherman Alexie, O. Henry Award, Smoke Signals Pages: 2 (607 words) Published: October 16, 2008
Sherman Alexie’s What You Pawn I Will Redeem
Reading Response #1

How has Sherman Alexie managed to detach Jackson Jackson from his present predicament, and what is the effect of this on the reader?

Throughout Sherman Alexie’s short story, What You Pawn I Will Redeem, the narrator, Jackson Jackson, manages to distance himself from his present predicament of being homeless and penniless. He does so while on a ‘quest’ (Alexie 18) to buy back his grandmother’s regalia, which he discovered in a local pawn shop. Jackson starts off with five dollars in which to turn into nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars over the course of twenty-four hours, and while he does manage to get his hands on some money, his nature and the viscous cycle state of his situation causes him to lose sight of his ultimate goal.

In the beginning of the story, Alexie introduces Jackson as having a fairly normal upbringing that unravels after he flunked out of college. “One day you have a home and the next you don’t,” (Alexie 12) perfectly encapsulates the main character’s situation. All throughout the story, readers are given the impression that Jackson has somewhat come to accept his circumstances, and that he is intelligent but simply unlucky to have turned out the way he did. This causes the readers to feel sympathy towards Jackson, and so they find it easier to understand why he acts so distant. He lost his chance at a successful life, and therefore he brings it upon himself to save his grandmother’s regalia, so in a way he will have accomplished something of value with his now meaningless life.

The main way Jackson detaches himself is through drinking alcohol with the money he should be saving towards his grandmother’s regalia. He buys, “three bottles of inspiration…to figure out how to raise all that money,” (Alexie 16.) The use of the word ‘inspiration’ sounds like an excuse, as if buying the alcohol is actually a vital part of the plan. Later in the story, after having won...
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