Is there an epiphany in "What You Pawn I Will Redeem"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let us remember that an epiphany is defined as a moment of sudden insight experienced by a character when they realise something about who they are or their own identity. We can see that Jackson, the Indian narrator in this excellent short story, experiences something of an epiphany at the end of the story, when he is given his grandmother's regalia and rejoices in having it again. Consider what the final paragraph of the story tells us:

I took my grandmother’s regalia and walked outside. I knew that solitary yellow bead was part of me. I knew I was that yellow bead in part. Outside, I wrapped myself in my grandmother’s regalia and breathed her in. I stepped off the sidewalk and into the intersection. Pedestrians stopped. Cars stopped. The city stopped. They all watched me dance with my grandmother. I was my grandmother, dancing.

Through the possession of his grandmother's regalia, Jackson is able to identify himself as the descendent of his relatives with his cultural heritage. What is particularly interesting is the way that Jackson identifies himself with the "yellow bead," which is the flaw that was sewn deliberately into the regalia to distinguish it from others. Jackson understands that he "was that yellow bead in part," seeing himself as something of a flaw because of his problems with drink and money. However, this does not prevent him from rejoicing in reestablishing the link he has forged with his cultural past as he dances with his grandmother and imagines being reunited with her and his cultural heritage that is now lost.