Applying a School of Criticism of Schilb and Clifford Analyze “What You Pawn I Will Redeem”
Sherman Alexie’s short story, “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” follows a homeless Spokane Indian man named Jackson Jackson in his quest to redeem his grandmother’s regalia. The last paragraph of this short story connects to the title with metaphors and symbolism in which Jackson Jackson, as imperfect and invisible as he is, as a homeless Native American, finally becomes a visible redeemer to the world, rather than a pawn, when he succeeds in winning his grandmother in the regalia.
Jackson Jackson is a homeless Indian living in Seattle. He was given a chance to win back his grandmother’s powpow regalia. I believe that throughout the story all of Jackson’s intentions to try and get back the regalia were good, although it didn’t seem like it at first. What made me like Jackson was his continued effort. Also what made Jackson more likeable in the story was he used his humor to help him. Jackson is a very complex person with many different sides to him. Jackson wouldn’t say why he was homeless. He said it was his secret and that Indians had to work hard at keeping their secrets. Then he decided to sell newspapers, so the newspaper guy gave him fifty papers for free. Jackson then went out on the street and only sold five in an hour and gave up and threw the rest out. He then went to McDonalds and bought burgers for him-self to eat, only to throw everything up. Then at the end of the story Jackson had thirty dollars left, out of everything he had over the course of twenty-four hours, and he ended up buying three other Indians plus himself breakfast, only to have the Indians disappear right after. I feel like if Jackson had tried harder he would have at least come up with most of the money he needed to really prove that he had tried hard. I think that throughout this story we are shown who Jackson really is. He is an endearing, compassionate, caring, and giving human being. He really truly cared about his grandmother too. I think he idolized her. Most memories Jackson had are about his grandmother. I think he misses her so much and she has helped sculpt him into the person he is today, despite the fact that he is homeless and an alcoholic. He said that “I’ve been killing myself ever since she died. His grandmother was the only one in his family to really make a significant impact on Jackson’s life.
In the end, he realizes that another member of his group, Junior, has also left and hitchhiked down to Portland, Oregon. When Jackson visits the Indian bar and befriends Honey Boy and Irene, he finds that at the end of the night, they too have disappeared. Finally, the Aleut cousins, also homeless Indians, disappear as well, said to have either drowned or disappeared north. Jackson’s status of a loner in society is further solidified as one by one, his “posse” disappears. In conclusion, Alexie’s short story illustrates a cultural character looking for redemption, as well as a home.