What is the historical era for this story's setting?

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Alexie's story is set in the present—that is, the early 2000s, when it was first published. Though there is no mention of the specific time in which it takes place, the period is clear from the background information the narrator gives us. Jackson Jackson, the narrator, appears to be a...

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Alexie's story is set in the present—that is, the early 2000s, when it was first published. Though there is no mention of the specific time in which it takes place, the period is clear from the background information the narrator gives us. Jackson Jackson, the narrator, appears to be a man about the same age Alexie was at the time the story was written, or perhaps older. He tells us his grandmother was a nurse during World War II and that her regalia has been missing for about fifty years. However, this may be a deliberate exaggeration, because Jackson speculates that his grandmother's cancer, of which she died when he was fourteen, might have been brought on by the shock of the regalia's being stolen.

The precise historical period actually is relatively unimportant. Alexie's theme centers on the sense of loss Indigenous Americans feel, symbolized here by the regalia that Jackson sees in the pawnshop and wishes to re-acquire. Despite the humor with which it's narrated, a kind of hopelessness pervades the story. Alexie depicts an American Indian man locked in a timeless dreamworld in which the external world makes little sense, people disappear, and the catastrophes suffered by Native Americans are reenacted day by day in each person's own microcosm, as it were. The remarkable thing is the kindness shown to Jackson by the police officer and the pawnbroker, so in the end, there is something positive that emerges from the overall tragedy.

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