What You Pawn I Will Redeem

by

Sherman Alexie

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What You Pawn I Will Redeem: 3:00 P.M. Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jackson walks back to Junior, who is still passed out. Jackson checks to see that Junior is still breathing. After confirming that he is alive, Jackson digs around in his pockets and finds a cigarette, which he smokes while thinking about his grandmother, Agnes. She died from breast cancer when Junior was only 14 years old, and Jackson’s family had different theories about the cause of her cancer. His father believed the tumors were a result of the uranium mine on their reservation, while his mother believed that the cancer was a result of the broken ribs that Agnes suffered after she was hit by a motorcycle on her way home from a powwow.
Jackson’s grandmother represents a connection to his cultural identity and heritage. Older generations are meant to pass practices and traditions down to the younger generations, but the fact that she died when Jackson was so young interrupted the transfer of cultural knowledge and identity. The theory that her cancer was a result of the uranium mine on their reservation points to another life-threatening effect of the colonization of American Indian land.
Themes
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Death and Grief  Theme Icon
Surrounded by the smell of smoke and vomit, Jackson ruminates on his own theory that her cancer could have leaked out from her broken heart and into her breasts after her powwow regalia was stolen. If he earns back the regalia, he might also be able to bring his grandmother back from the dead. He admits that this thought is crazy, but it nonetheless inspires him to refocus on the task of finding the money. So, he leaves Junior behind again to walk over to the Real Change office.
Jackson’s theory that a broken heart over her stolen regalia may have caused her cancer highlights the extreme pain that results from having one’s culture stolen, and it suggests that grief, which plagues American Indian communities, can often have physical effects, too. Jackson’s desire to bring his grandmother back from the dead is really a desire to regain the culture and identity he lost when she died.
Themes
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Death and Grief  Theme Icon
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