What you Pawn i Will Redeem by Sherman Alexie

Everything is better with a good Laughter. Life can be tough sometimes, so why not going through it with humor? It is proven that humorful people manage life better in stressful situations than others. The same phenomenon we can see in Sherman Alexie’s article “What you pawn I will redeem”. She writes a story of a homeless Native American man and the search of identity and belonging. This Native American man called Jackson Jackson, manages his life with a humorful lifestyle. The readers enjoy the story he tells.

Jackson Jackson, is a homeless Native American man in Seattle, Washington. He describes his daily life, living in the streets of the city, and the ongoing loss of his culture and identity. The story is about the adventures he has with his friends looking for money, so he can buy back his grandmas stolen property from a pawnshop. The pawnshop owner makes a deal with him and gives him 24 hours to get the money together before he sells it to someone else.

With no money in his pocket he starts the quest of gaining money to buy his grandmother’s regalia. His main struggle is, that as soon as he gets some money from people who know him and want to help he spends it all his gains on things like food and alcohol, taking one step forward and one step back at the same time. In the end he manages to get his “grandmothers” regalia and regains a part of his identity.

Jackson Jackson’s has a very positive and humorous attitude on everything even when things do not go well for him. His way of looking at life makes him a generally happy person even though he is both an alcoholic and homeless. This positive happy attitude seems to infect others. The people who spend time with him seem to get in a good mood, good mood enough that they give him money to help on his “Quest” even though they admittedly know he is probably going to spend the money on alcohol.

Communities and peoples who are often subjugated have a very positive attitude towards things, often this positive attitude is expressed through humor. This can be seen from the black slaves in the American south singing and having comedy shows Sunday nights during their enslavement, the dark humors soldiers make up during the dark times of war to Jackson Jackson’s humor heavy interactions with people and this level of comedic attitude is common in poor Native American cultures. Jackson Jackson expresses this feeling by responding to a friend:

“You Indians. How the hell do you laugh so much? I just picked your ass off the railroad tracks, and you’re making jokes. Why the hell do you do that?”

“The two funniest tribes I’ve ever been around are Indians and Jews, so I guess that says something about the inherent humor of genocide.”

People and communities who have it hard often become the most creative. This creativity gets express by being humorous and making themselves and others laugh a lot. Hardship can be embraced, what Jackson Jackson often does throughout this story. He never complains about his homelessness, he embraces all the negative in his life.   

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