49 pages 1 hour read

Sherman Alexie

What You Pawn I Will Redeem

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 2003

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Character Analysis

Jackson Jackson

Jackson Jackson is the novel’s narrator—a “Spokane Indian boy” who now lives in Seattle (Part 1, Paragraph 2). Although he has “worked various blue and bluer-collar jobs, married two or three times, [and] fathered two or three kids” (Part 1, Paragraph 2), Jackson is now a homeless alcoholic. He implies that his situation is in part the result of mental illness but rejects the “asocial disorder” he has been diagnosed with, saying that the worst he has done has been to “[break] a few hearts [...] but we’ve all done that” (Part 1, Paragraph 2). Over the course of the story, it becomes clear that Jackson is in fact capable of great generosity, so his diagnosis likely has more to do with his refusal to live by the norms that govern modern American society, including an economic system premised on buying, selling, and saving. Instead, Jackson has found ways to be successful living on the streets, spending whatever money he comes into on food and drink for himself and his friends.

Further complicating Alexie’s depiction of Jackson is the latter’s attitude towards his ethnic and racial heritage. Jackson is at times flippant about this; when Officer Williams tries to take him to a detox facility, Jackson jokes, “[T]hat place is awful [.

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