The story’s setting is during the post-Holocaust period. Sol Nazerman a survivor lives with his sister and her family in New York. He runs a pawnshop in Harlem and majority of his clients include prostitutes and drug addicts who he interacts with often. He hires Jesus Ortiz as an assistant at the shop. Jesus plans a robbery at the pawn shop but he dies while trying to protect Sol during the robbery. His death comes during the 15th anniversary marking the period when Sol lost his wife and child. This event which occurs towards the end of the story prompts changes in Sol’s attitude towards humanity in general and for the first time he grieves his wife and child.
During the pre-Holocaust period, Sol worked as a professor. He was arrested during the holocaust and subjected to grievous physical and psychological trauma in the camp. His internal wounds due to these events never healed and he did not get the opportunity to grieve his son and his wife. Living under such conditions turned Sol into a cold man who harbored contempt for people especially his clients at the pawn shop. It is only after the death of Mendel and Jesus that he sets off on the path towards redemption and forgiveness. At the end of the story, Sol is a changed man who desires to live despite the pain he has been through.