What You Pawn I Will Redeem

by

Sherman Alexie

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The Aleut Cousins Character Analysis

The Aleut Cousins are three American Indians from Alaska that Jackson first discovers crying on a bench while looking out over the water. Jackson describes that the Aleuts, like many others, came down to Seattle on a fishing boat to earn money, but then spent it all on alcohol and became stranded and homeless with no way to return home. The cousins explain that they are sitting on the wharf waiting for their boat to come back. Jackson returns to the cousins throughout the course of the story: he cries with them, asks them to sing him ceremonial songs, and finally spends the last of his money treating them to a meal at a diner. The cousins’ boat never comes, and later Jackson hears from other homeless American Indians that they’d waded out into the sea and disappeared. While some insist that they walked on the water and headed back to Alaska, others claim that they witnessed them drown. The cousins’ tragic fate represents the fact that it’s impossible for many American Indians to return home or regain the land that once belonged to their people.

The Aleut Cousins Quotes in What You Pawn I Will Redeem

The What You Pawn I Will Redeem quotes below are all either spoken by The Aleut Cousins or refer to The Aleut Cousins. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of What You Pawn I Will Redeem published in 2004.
8:00 A.M. Quotes

The Aleuts sang their strange and beautiful songs. I listened. They sang about my grandmother and their grandmothers. They were lonely for the cold and snow. I was lonely for everybody.

Related Characters: Jackson Jackson (speaker), The Aleut Cousins, Agnes
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Aleut Cousins Character Timeline in What You Pawn I Will Redeem

The timeline below shows where the character The Aleut Cousins appears in What You Pawn I Will Redeem. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Noon
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
Death and Grief  Theme Icon
His 24 hours allotted by the pawnbroker have passed, so Jackson says goodbye to the Aleut cousins . Later, he hears that the cousins waded off a dock and into the seawater,... (full context)
2:00 P.M.
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
Death and Grief  Theme Icon
At the wharf, Jackson encounters three Aleut cousins who are looking out over the bay and crying. Jackson explains that most homeless American... (full context)
8:00 A.M.
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Death and Grief  Theme Icon
Back on the wharf, the three Aleut cousins are still waiting for their boat. Jackson asks if they’ve seen it yet; they’ve seen... (full context)
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Death and Grief  Theme Icon
Jackson asks the Aleut cousins if they know any songs. They tell him that they know all of Hank Williams’s... (full context)
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Death and Grief  Theme Icon
The Aleuts ask Jackson what he’s wishing and hoping for, and he tells them that he wishes... (full context)
10:00 A.M.
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
The Aleut cousins run out of songs, and the four sit in silence again. Jackson observes that “Indians... (full context)
11:00 A.M.
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
Jackson and the Aleut cousins go to a diner called the Big Kitchen that serves homeless Indians. The four sit... (full context)