American Literature

American Literature

What You Pawn I Will Redeem is an outstanding short story penned by Sherman Alexie. The story is centered on the life of Jackson, who is an Indian of Spokane origin. He sees his grandmother’s dancing regalia in a pawn shop and wishes to purchase it, the story develops as an account of his attempt to raise the $ 1,000 needed to buy it. The author explores many themes in this story most evident of which is the theme of relationships. Many relations exist as the story unravels such as the relationship between Jackson and his fellow Indians that between him and his ancestral roots and lastly the relationship between his grandmother and him. Therefore, the story is indisputably shaped by these interactions.

The focus of the story is the relationship between Jackson and his grandmother through the need to obtain her dancing clothes. He claims that the regalia were stolen from his grandmother several years before. He wants to procure them in order to re-establish his relationship with his grandmother. Through this, the author shows the necessity that Jackson has to feel connected to his past, and this is achieved when he sees the dancing clothes. The pawn broker needs proof that it was indeed his grandmothers and Jackson explains that his family always added a yellow bead onto their clothes but always kept it hidden. The pawn broker does not seem to believe Jackson’s story, and this is probably why he quotes a very high price for the dancing regalia that only lasts for one day after which the offer will end (Alexie, 193).

As Jackson goes off to try and raise the required amount of money, the relationship between him and his fellow Indians surfaces. It is safe to assume that this relationship has a direct co-relation to that of his grandmother. This is attributable to the need to get her dancing clothes is what led him on this adventurous journey. Proof of this relationship is evidenced when he buys a big breakfast for the Aleuts and also several rounds of drinks for denizens he finds in an Indian bar (Alexie, 198). From these actions, his need to belong is expressed. Jackson by these acts makes friends, albeit for a short while, especially with fellow Indians and experiences a sense of belonging. This connection is, therefore, an important focus since it contributes to the main theme in the story.

After one day of adventure and trying to get the money needed for the dancing clothes, Jackson goes back to the pawn shop with nothing but the same amount he started out with, five dollars. The pawn broker asks whether it was the same note he had the previous day and Jackson denies this. The story takes a remarkable turn when he agrees to sell the regalia to Jackson for only five, as opposed to a thousand dollars. Jackson dons the clothes happily and starts dancing in the streets of Seattle as everyone watches him (Alexie, 200). Jackson finally has a sense of belonging after he gets his grandmother’s dancing clothes back. This is shown by his happiness when he takes to the streets in dance not caring about anyone’s opinion because he is finally united with his Indian roots and especially with his grandmother.

In conclusion, this book exemplifies the importance of relationships in our day to day life as depicted by Jackson Jackson’s one day adventure. His actions demonstrate different relationships which shape the story in question. Consequently, the various characters’ relationships, particularly that of Jackson and his grandmother seem to be the main focus of the story by Sherman Alexie.

Works Cited

Alexie, Sherman. Ten little Indians. New York: Grove Press, 2003. Print.


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