A Foolish, Homeless Con-Artist’s Quest to Ease Loneliness as Displayed in Sherman Alexie’s “What You Pawn I Will Redeem”
In Sherman Alexie’s “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” the protagonist exemplifies how to be a professional homeless con artist, and reveals how to use an actual stolen family artifact to prey on the human capacity for compassion.
It’s a story in which our protagonist with the same first and last name, Jackson Jackson, stumbles across a garb made by his grandmother in a local pawnshop, said to be stolen some fifty years before, and his journey to raise the money to buy it back. Jackson Jackson is an alcoholic, Washington State Native American Indian, who has spent the last six years of his life honing his skills of manipulation in Seattle. He refers to himself as being an “effective homeless man,” (486:3) if there is such a thing. It is his greatest accomplishment and the only thing he happens to be good at, between flunking out of college, failing at numerous marriages and being a non-existent father to several children. Jackson moved to Seattle twenty-three years before Alexie’s story takes place to attend college. Assuming he is an average eighteen year old freshman, that would put his current age at roughly forty, old enough to make sense out of and rationalize real life events, contrasting with the amount of immaturity displayed on a consistent basis throughout the piece. He strays away from adult behavior on an hourly basis, most likely a reflection of the carefree life he’s been living on the streets. He first accepts an impossible challenge to acquire nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars in twenty-four hours to buy the stolen garb back. The action seemingly inspires hope in the reader that he has belief in himself to make the unrealistic possibility of obtaining so much money probable. He then refers to the three bottles of alcohol he purchases after leaving the pawnshop as “imagination” (488:48), says that he doesn’t want to call the...
Cited: Alexie, Sherman. “What You Pawn I Will Redeem.”Literature: Fiction: An Anthology of Stories for
Further Reading. Eds Nicholas Delbanco and Allan Cheuse. New York: McGraw Hill, 2010, Print.
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