What You Pawn I Will Redeem

by

Sherman Alexie

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What You Pawn I Will Redeem: 9:00 P.M. Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Feeling lonely, Jackson decides to walk to the all-Indian bar, Big Heart’s. He explains that its unknown “how or why Indians migrate to one bar and turn it into an official Indian bar.” Big Heart’s has been an “official” Indian bar for 23 years. Jackson remembers that a “crazy Lummi Indian” burned the original bar down.
To deal with their loneliness, Jackson and other American Indians congregate at bars where they are surrounded by others who understand their cultures and identities. The popularity of bars among American Indians also shows that others are caught in a destructive cycle with alcohol similar to Jackson’s.
Themes
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
Jackson doesn’t know anyone inside the bar but he remarks that Indians treat one another like cousins, because “Indians like to belong.” At the bar, Jackson hands over his $80 in exchange for 80 shots of alcohol. He announces that he is treating all his “cousins” in the bar to a long night of drinking. Jackson sits down with a woman named Irene and man named Honey Boy. He asks them what tribe they belong to. The woman is Duwamish and the man is Crow from Montana. Jackson remarks that Honey Boy is far from home.
Jackson immediately spends the remaining $80 dollars from his lottery win, and again he spends it on others. American Indian culture is grounded in community, so much so that they regard each other as family even when they have never actually met. This is in direct opposition to the individualistic culture of capitalism. Jackson’s communal mindset keeps him poor in an individualistic capitalist society.
Themes
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
Honey Boy is a two-spirit, and Irene warns that he can seduce Jackson with his magic. Jackson insists that he’s in love with Kay only. The other Indians in the bar buy more rounds, including Honey Boy, who charges the alcohol to his credit card. Twelve shots in, Jackson and asks Irene to dance, but she turns him down. Honey Boy puts Willie Nelson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” on the jukebox, and Irene and Jackson watch as he sings and dances around the bar. Jackson leans over and kisses Irene, who kisses him back.
Like Jackson, Honey Boy and the other American Indians in the bar treat everyone to more drinks. Honey Boy charges the alcohol to his credit card, which shows how he is willing to go into debt for his community, just as Jackson is willing to spend all his money. The song that Honey Boy puts on the jukebox speaks to the grief and daily struggle that the American Indian community experiences as a result of marginalization and oppression.
Themes
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
Death and Grief  Theme Icon