Jackson's 'What You Pawn I Will Redeem'

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The way that people react to sudden loss varies based on their background. Some view it as a direct attack on race, religion, or culture. A prime example of this is when the mother in “When The Emperor Was Divine”, believes that she was put in a camp and sent away just because she was Japanese. Others believe that their loss is because of their own actions. Such a motive is expressed in “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Jackson Jackson who knows that he is homeless because of his own actions. Overall, the way that one reacts to a sudden loss all depends if they believe their actions caused the loss. Historical context in the sense of past events is a way to predict how someone of that time period may respond to a situation. In “When The…show more content…
Jackson Jackson, who is of Native American descent, lost his home due to reasons he does not want to share, but is actively trying to turn his life around. (Alexie 1433) The author, Sherman Alexie, who is also of Native American heritage, put him in the story to show the passion and drive in Native Americans. Since, they have been run out of their homes for the past hundreds of years, they now feel like they are “invisible”, not hated. Jackson goes on a quest to try to buy back his grandmothers regalia, which can be seen as a metaphor of him trying to get his life back together. Even though he continues to fail at getting the necessary amount of money to buy it back, Jackson continues to try. Jackson shares a philosophical theory with the father in “When The Emperor Was Divine”, in that “it’s better to bend than to break”. (Otsuka 78) What he means is that it is better to resist than to give up. For instance, Jackson could have just given up at the pawn shop and not tried to buy back the regalia that he knew was his grandmothers, but instead he tried to buy it back. Even though he kept spending the money he earned, he continued to work for more. (Alexie 1448) Despite earning over one hundred and fifty dollars, Jackson spent it on; food, alcohol, and lottery tickets. Even with all of this spending Jackson never gave up on his goal of buying back his grandmothers regalia. Moreover, Jackson refused to make up excuses as to why he cannot get the regalia. Even though for years Native Americans have been seen as “liars” he does not use that as an excuse to stop trying. (Alexie 1436) At no point in the story did Jackson ever act like he was a different ethnicity, or try to become a different person. Even when he ended up with the same amount money that he began with he still went back to the pawn
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