The Rich Brother Analysis

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The short story "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" by Sherman Alexie details a day in the life of a homeless Native American named Jackson Jackson. Jackson is on a quest that, to a majority of readers, appears to be about obtaining his grandmother 's powwow regalia. Upon further examination though, one can come to the conclusion that Jackson is in fact searching for his personal identity. Donald, one of the central characters from "The Rich Brother," would undoubtedly sympathize with Jackson 's plight, for he too searches for identity throughout the story. Considering that Jackson is distant from his homeland, one of his foremost challenges in life is resisting acculturation and assimilation. In order to fight this, he has taken it upon himself…show more content…
Although both characters avidly search for their identities, it is unclear whether or not Donald ever discovers his; whereas, with Jackson it is quite obvious that his mission to rediscover his cultural identity is a success. It becomes quite clear right away that Jackson has lost touch with his roots. He begins the story with, “One day you have a home and the next you don’t” (Alexie 1433). This sentence explicitly exposes the state of homelessness that Jackson lives in, but it also implicitly exposes the cultural aspect of homelessness the Native Americans live in as they are linked to an unfortunate past of cultural denial and stolen land. He explains that he has not lived in his ancestors’ homeland for twenty-three years, which can definitely cause one to move away from their upbringings. Jackson feels empty—even mentally deprived—from…show more content…
When she declines his offer, he states that “It’s tribal. It is an Indian thing. When you win, you’re supposed to share with your family” (Alexie 1440). Another example that proves Jackson’s quest for his identity and his solid bond with his own culture is that he is constantly “lonesome for Indians” (Alexie 1441). It is this loneliness that prompts him to spend his remaining eighty dollars on his Native American “cousins” that are not even blood related (Alexie 1441). Jackson feels linked to these Native Americans since they share his race and maybe even his suffering. The Native American culture brings them all together out of mutual respect for their past. Donald also knows what it is like to be generous in an attempt to obtain a sense of belonging; although, his effort is much less successful compared to Jackson’s. Donald “[gives] away groceries” that belong to his farm community to a family of fieldworkers, which eventually leads to him being kicked off the farm (Wolff 328). Instead of regaining a little bit of his identity similar to the way Jackson does, he is forced to once again continue his search for a home. Jackson also carries on his culture’s fiscal traditions by buying breakfast for a group of Aleut Indians, but not
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