In Sherman Alexie's "What You Pawn I Will Redeem," how is Jackson alienated from the community? How does he respond?

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The short story "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" by Sherman Alexie tells of a Native American homeless alcoholic named Jackson Jackson. He finds his grandmother's regalia, worn in ceremonial dancing, in a pawnshop and becomes determined to claim it. The shop owner tells Jackson that the regalia...

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The short story "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" by Sherman Alexie tells of a Native American homeless alcoholic named Jackson Jackson. He finds his grandmother's regalia, worn in ceremonial dancing, in a pawnshop and becomes determined to claim it. The shop owner tells Jackson that the regalia is worth one thousand dollars, so Jackson embarks upon a quest through the streets and hangouts of downtown Seattle to try to raise the money. On the way, he meets and interacts with a fascinating group of characters.

Jackson is alienated from the community in several ways. First of all, he is a Native American of the Interior Salish people. In a humorous but tragic way at the beginning of the story, he explains that there are many homeless Indians around Seattle and that white people see this poverty as "the terrible fate of the noble savage." Jackson responds to this alienation by attempting to reclaim whatever he can of his ancestral culture. In the story, it is his grandmother's regalia. When he succeeds in regaining it, he dances on the sidewalk, oblivious to onlookers, as a symbolic gesture of embracing his culture. He also deals with this alienation by maintaining friendships with a vast network of other Native Americans, most of whom are homeless like he is.

Jackson is also alienated from the community because he is an alcoholic. He reacts to this by yielding to it. He accepts it as a part of his existence. He drinks whenever he has the opportunity to do so, he takes for granted that he will vomit whatever he eats, and he passes out and wakes up in strange places.

Finally, Jackson is alienated from the community by the fact that he is homeless. He also accepts this as inevitable, but he reacts to this reality not by becoming bitter or violent but instead by displaying great compassion and generosity to the other downtrodden individuals around him. One reason he has such a difficult time reclaiming the regalia is because whenever he comes up with some money, he shares it with others by buying them alcohol or food. In a sense, his homelessness and empathy for other homeless people brings out the best aspects of his character.

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The man known as Jackson Jackson is a Spokane Indian that is alienated from the community in several ways. Most notably, however, he is alienated through homelessness.

As a part of the considerable homeless Indian population of Seattle, Jackson lives in relative squalor, sleeping where he can and subsisting on panhandling and other quick money-making schemes. Despite being very intelligent, Jackson has trouble functioning due to an unspecified mental illness compounded with the depression that comes from homelessness and from being a native in post-colonial America. Jackson is a severe alcoholic, and it is implied that he suffers from some sort of bulimia due to alcoholism, as he has trouble keeping food down.

Jackson responds to his alienation not only through his drinking but by generally approaching his life in a detached and aloof manner, as though what he is experiencing is a dream. Even when he is on his "quest" to recover his grandmother's regalia, any money that he comes across he spends almost immediately—not only on himself but on others as well. This is understandable with small amounts, as it seems unlikely that Jackson could save $1,000 in increments of tens and twenties. However, even when he wins $100 on a scratch off ticket, he immediately spends it on drinks for an entire bar. Jackson's response to his dismal isolation is to simply detach himself from reality and take life as it comes.

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Jackson is alienated from the community for many reasons. The first is that he is a Spokane Indian, an Interior Salish, who lives far from where he grew up. He went to Seattle twenty-three years ago, and, after flunking out of college and working some blue-collar jobs, he finds himself homeless, addicted to alcohol, and suffering from an undefined mental illness. His life involves wandering around the streets of Seattle and hanging out with other displaced Indians from other tribes.

In addition, he is alienated from his heritage. He finds powwow regalia that he believes once belonged to his grandmother now hanging in a pawn shop. Someone robbed her of her regalia 50 years before, which is symbolic of the way in which he feels disconnected from his grandmother and from his heritage. The fact that the regalia is now in a pawn shop shows how his heritage has been degraded and disrespected.

Jackson responds to his alienation mainly through passivity—drinking and being aimless. However, as the story goes on, he is motivated to find the money to buy back his grandmother's regalia, a sign that he is taking a more active route to connecting with his past and his heritage.

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In "What You Pawn I Will Redeem," Jackson is alienated from his community in a number of ways. He is an Interior Salish Native American from Spokane who left his hometown for college, then dropped out and developed an undiagnosed mental illness that eventually resulted in his homelessness. He describes himself as invisible in Seattle because he is one of so many homeless Native American people. Additionally, the owner of the pawn shop in which he finds his grandmother's powwow regalia refuses to return it at first and argues that the police wouldn't help him due to disbelieving him. Jackson is thus physically alienated from his Salish community because he left for Seattle with no means of returning, and is an invisible, disrespected member of his local community due to his mental illness and homelessness. As a mentally ill alcoholic, he primarily responds to his alienation in the form of excessive drinking.

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