What is the author trying to tell us in "What you pawn I will redeem" by Sherman Alexie?What is the author trying to tell us?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This story is about exploitation and grief, but it's also about fortitude.  It recounts the abuses to Native Americans in the twentieth century in a humorous way.

The story is about a homeless man who is Native American named Jackson Jackson.  He had jobs, and even tried to go to college, but some kind of psychological disorder holds him back (he says he’s crazy).

If there’s such a thing as an effective homeless man, then I suppose I’m effective. Being homeless is probably the only thing I’ve ever been good at. 

Jackson Jackson walks by a pawnshop on his way to 7-11 to buy boos and sees his grandmother’s war regalia.  He proves it is his because it has a yellow bead.  The pawnbroker feels bad, but says he can’t just give it to them because he paid $1000 for it.  The pawnbroker says he can have it for $999 in twenty-four hours.

Despite his problems, Jackson is a good man.  He sympathizes with others.  He gives the cashier part of the money when he wins $100 at the lottery.  He takes the rest to an Indian bar and shares it.  He wakes up on the railroad tracks with a cop asking him what happened.

“It’s my grandmother,” I said. “She died.”

“I’m sorry, man. When did she die?”

“Nineteen seventy-two.”

“And you’re killing yourself now?”

“I’ve been killing myself ever since she died.”

After a few more exploits, he gets the regalia and dances like his grandmother.

What you put out comes back to you, and you get what others put out.


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