Essay On What You Pawn I Will Redeem

What You Pawn I Will Redeem By Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie writes in his story, What You Pawn I Will Redeem about a homeless Salish Indian named Jackson Jackson. Alexie takes readers on Jackson’s journey to acquire enough money to purchase back his grandmother’s stolen powwow regalia. Throughout the story, Jackson’s relationships with other charters ultimately define his own character. Alexie, a well know Native American author tells an all too common tale of poverty and substance abuse in the Native American community through his character Jackson. The major character flaw of Jackson is his kindness, which ultimately becomes his greatest asset when fate allows him to purchase back his grandmother’s powwow regalia from a pawn broker for only five dollars.
Sherman Alexie grew up in Wellpinit, Washington as a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene tribal member (Sherman Alexie). He began his personal battle with substance abuse in 1985 during his freshman year at Jesuit Gonzaga University. The success of his first published work in 1990 incentivized Alexie to overcome his alcohol abuse. “In his short-story and poetry collections, Alexie illuminates the despair, poverty, and alcoholism that often shape the lives of Native Americans living on reservations” (Sherman Alexie). When developing his characters, Alexie often gives them characteristics of substance abuse, poverty and criminal behaviors in an effort to evoke sadness with his readers. Alexie utilizes other art forms, such as film, music, cartoons, and the print media, to bombard mainstream distortion of Indian culture and to redefine Indianness. “Both the term Indian and the stereotypical image are created through histories of misrepresentation—one is a simulated word without a tribal real and the other an image that reflects European ideals” (Baxter).
The main character in the story is Jackson Jackson, a homeless Salish Indian. Jackson lives in Seattle, Washington. Jackson was originally Spokane, but traveled to Seattle twenty-three years early to attend college before dropping out. His character is described as having working numerous blue collared jobs, having been married multiple times and fathering multiple children. In the story, Jackson eludes to himself having a mental disorder. His character is extremely resourceful with both food and personal care. In the story, Jackson reveals a bit about himself through his introduction of other characters. Jackson states “Indians are great storytellers and liars and mythmakers” (87).
Jackson’s dilemma begins when he and his friends pass a pawn store window and he notices powwow dance regalia in the storefront window that he recognizes belonged to his grandmother. The powwow dance regalia had been stolen years before, but Jackson is confident that he recognizes the regalia from photos. In an effort to prove the powwow dance regalia belonged to his grandmother, he tells the shop owner that he will find a yellow bead sewn on the inside. While the...

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WHAT YOU PAWN, I WILL REDEEM 2 The story I chose is “ what you pawn, I will redeem ” by Sherman Alexie. I feel like this story connected with me and my previous situations that have occurred in my life. The story reminds me of the general choices that I had to make in life. The hard decisions that faced me when growing up. The story brings in two different paths, the adult path that comes up with responsibility and maturity and the immature side that showcases the various escapades the main character has. One would normally think of poverty as a disease that needs to be eradicated by all means possible; however the opposite is true for Jackson in Sherman Alexie’s, what you pawn, I will redeem . Instead of putting a lot effort to save every single coin he gets so that he can manage to buy back his grandmothers dancing regalia, Jackson chooses to spend it all on alcohol and friends. The little money he gets form people he spends all of it and he returns back to the original situation. Saving enough to get the $999 required is a hard task, but one that can be achieved with proper planning and discipline. His actions is a physical manifestation of the typical Indian poor boy growing up in a foreign country. Instead of focusing on how to make more, his focus in diverted to sharing with friends. By analyzing Jackson’s behavior, his struggles to get the money required and his determination to keep moving on despite when things are not hopeful, one can see that Jackson is a hardworking man who may never remove himself from the hands of poverty.


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