What You Pawn I Will Redeem Questions and Answers
by Sherman Alexie

Start Your Free Trial

Please provide an analysis of the story "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" by Sherman Alexie?

Expert Answers info

carol-davis eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2004

write1,291 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

In “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie, the main character is a homeless Native American Indian who came to Seattle to go to college and quit after two semesters.  Alexie creates a world where the protagonist seems to find help from every turn that he makes.


The setting is the 1990’s in Seattle. Jackson Jackson is a Spokane Indian. According to Jackson Squared, his "people have lived within a one-hundred-mile radius of Spokane, Washington, for   ten thousand years." Several places are used as part of the setting: under the bridge, the pawn shop, an all-Indian bar. 


The tone of the story spans a range of emotions. The character of Jackson determines the mood of the story.  At times, he is humorous and even cheerful. Jackson can also be sarcastic, frustrated, and resigned to his fate.  


Alexie approaches this story using an hourly structure.  His episodes cover about a twenty-four period which takes Jackson in search of the money he needs to...

(The entire section contains 602 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

fiberdawg | Student
I really enjoyed the story “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie. What made it so enjoyable for me, was not only the main character Jackson Jackson (AKA Jackson squared), but also the friends which were mentioned throughout this story. The characters are always my favorite part of any story, and this story definitely had some great ones, but none better than Jackson, in my opinion. Thanks to  the main character I got to experience first hand what it’s like to be, not only homeless, but also an Indian, and an alcoholic. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, and at the same time be constantly frustrated with him, while also laughing out loud .  
The whole story was about him making money in order to buy back a regalia from a pawn shop. A regalia which belonged to his beloved Grandmother, who unfortunately passed away. Jackson was told that he had till noon the next day to make the money he needed in order to buy the regalia back, and so he set off to do so. The problem was that as soon as he made a little money he would immediately spend it. This, and the fact that he was on a schedule, frustrated me to no end. Regardless,  I could never  stay mad at him for long, because he always shared what he had earned with his fellow homeless Indiansor what he called "cousins." Except for one instance when he bought himself some cheeseburgers, which he immediately threw up, do to his stomach problems caused by alcoholism. Throughout the whole story, Jacksons situation seemed utterly hopeless, but he never once gave up hope, and he always found something to joke about.
In the end he didn’t make the 999 dollars that he needed to buy the regalia back, but the pawnbroker gave the regalia to him anyway. At that point in the story I couldn’t help but feel extremely happy, and relieved for Jackson, which also left me trying to swallow down a lump in my throat.  This writer did a great job of building up my compassion for his main character.
The friends that Jackson meets throughout this story were, to me, hilarious. The writer of this story did not go into great length to explain these characters, but he didn’t need to, because the few words that he used to explain each one, were more than enough. There was Rose Sharron who “was over 7 feet tall if you measured effect, and about five feet if you measured physical” (Alexie 88). There was also Junior, who was described as a good-looking Indian, like the ones from the don’t litter, public service announcement commercials” (Alexie 88). Then there was Irene Muse who was wonderfully fat, and whose body felt like a large, warm, and soft breast” (Alexi 95). Not to mention a handfull of other great characters.
Every character that Jackson met made the story that much better, funnier, and sadder all at the same time. For me there was a lot to like about this story, but the characters won me over more than anything else.