What You Pawn I Will Redeem

by

Sherman Alexie

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The Pawnbroker Character Analysis

The pawnbroker is an old white man who claims to have paid $1,000 for Jackson’s grandmother’s powwow regalia, which was stolen from her 50 years ago. The pawnbroker immediately assumes that Jackson is lying about the regalia belonging to his family but isn’t surprised when Jackson proves it’s his with the yellow bead sewn into garment. The pawnbroker acts sympathetic and even admits that the right thing to do would be to give the regalia back to Jackson—but he claims he can’t shoulder the financial loss. When Rose of Sharon threatens to go to the police, the pawnbroker claims that he had no idea the regalia was stolen. The pawnbroker believes the “fairest” offer he can make Jackson is to sell it back for $999, give Jackson 24 hours to come up with the money, and give $20 to get him started. At the end of the story when Jackson returns to the pawnshop with just five dollars, the pawnbroker appears most concerned with whether Jackson worked hard for the money. When Jackson says yes, the pawnbroker offers up the regalia for free and admits that he doesn’t want Jackson’s money. Jackson is dejected because he was invested in truly winning it back, but the pawnbroker assures him that he did win it back. For this, Jackson praises the pawnbroker as one of the many great men in this world—though, really, the regalia rightfully belonged to Jackson all along.

The Pawnbroker Quotes in What You Pawn I Will Redeem

The What You Pawn I Will Redeem quotes below are all either spoken by The Pawnbroker or refer to The Pawnbroker. 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.
Noon Quotes

I set the crumpled Lincoln on the countertop. The pawnbroker studied it.

“Is that the same five dollars from yesterday?”

“No, it’s different.”

He thought about the possibilities.

“Did you work hard for this money?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

Related Characters: Jackson Jackson (speaker), The Pawnbroker (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Five-Dollar Bills
Page Number: 193-194
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Pawnbroker Character Timeline in What You Pawn I Will Redeem

The timeline below shows where the character The Pawnbroker appears in What You Pawn I Will Redeem. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Noon
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Inside the pawn shop, Jackson tells the old white pawnbroker that the regalia is his grandmother’s, which was stolen 50 years ago. The pawnbroker is... (full context)
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
When Junior starts to tell the pawnbroker that the regalia has been missing for 50 years, Jackson tells Junior that it’s his... (full context)
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
The pawnbroker asks for Jackson’s name, and he explains that his first and last name are both... (full context)
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... (full context)
Native American Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Death and Grief  Theme Icon
...pawnshop tucked away behind one last corner. He walks inside and says hello to the pawnbroker. The pawnbroker asks after Rose of Sharon and Junior, and Jackson tells him that they... (full context)
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
The pawnbroker asks Jackson if he has the money, and Jackson asks, hopefully, if his price is... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
The pawnbroker steps into the back room, where he’s moved Jackson’s grandmother’s powwow regalia from the front... (full context)
1:00 P.M.
Money, Capitalism, and Morality Theme Icon
With the $20 from the pawnbroker, and the $5 from their panhandling, Jackson, Rose of Sharon, and Junior head over to... (full context)
6:00 A.M.
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...is to file a police report. But Jackson believes that would be unfair to the pawnbroker, who didn’t know the regalia was stolen. Williams takes a long look at Jackson before... (full context)