Sherman Alexie’s story titled “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” is narrated in the first person by its main character, a middle-aged American Indian named Jackson Jackson. Jackson, who was born in Spokane but now lives in Seattle, begins by reporting that he is homeless. He came to Seattle twenty-three years ago to attend college but quickly flunked out. He subsequently worked blue collar jobs, married a few times, fathered a few children, “and then went crazy.” He claims that he is non-violent but confesses that he has broken a few hearts over the years. He has a habit of leaving whatever relationships he forms.
Jackson claims that he has been homeless for six years but is “effective” as a homeless person. He knows how to get along, make friends, and find store employees who will let him use the employee bathrooms. Jackson addresses his readers as if he assumes they are white and have little concern for homeless Indians. Yet Jackson is equally skeptical of the attitudes of various Indians, who, he says, know how to make up stories. Jackson’s current friends, with whom he wanders the streets, are Rose of Sharon and Junior. The former is a small woman with a large personality; the latter is a good-looking Indian who makes Jackson “jealous, jealous, and jealous.” Jackson may not be as handsome as Junior, but he prides himself on knowing how to deal with whites.
At noon one day, Jackson and his two friends happen to pass a pawn shop. They see, hanging in the front window, some “powwow-dance regalia” that Jackson recognizes as having once belonged to his grandmother. He has seen photos of the outfit and is sure that this is the same one; he claims that it had been stolen. The three friends enter the shop and Jackson is soon able to prove to the shop owner (because of a hidden yellow bead) that the regalia had in fact once belonged to his grandmother. The shop owner says that he believes Jackson but also says that he paid a thousand dollars for the outfit and cannot simply give it to Jackson. Instead, he offers to sell the regalia for $999. Unfortunately, Jackson and his friends have only five dollars.
The pawnshop owner, sympathetic to Jackson’s plight, tells Jackson that if the latter can return within twenty-four hours with $999, he will sell the regalia to Jackson for that price. He even contributes $20 to the cause. Jackson and his friends then leave the store in search of the rest of the...
(The entire section is 1915 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of What You Pawn I Will Redeem Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!