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Our Identity Essay

711 words - 3 pages

“What you Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie is a story about a Native American man named Jackson Jackson who is on a mission to get his grandmothers regalia back from a pawn shop. The regalia was stolen from his grandmother years before she passed away and Jackson feels that he will be better connected with her if he gets it. The gentleman at the pawn shop says that he will sell it to Jackson for $999 if he returns with the money within twenty four hours. From the beginning, the goal of Jackson obtaining $999 dollars is impractical because Jackson is without a job and homeless. Nevertheless, Jackson goes on a journey to collect $999 to buy back his grandmothers regalia. Although the goal of buying back the regalia was unrealistic for Jackson, discovering himself, being kind to others, and reuniting with part of his heritage were very real; these things teach us about the struggles we all face with our identity and allow us to relate with Jackson ...view middle of the document...

In trying to discover who he really is, Jackson finds comfort in other Native Americans knowing their heritage.
Perhaps the true message in the story was of kindness and how being good to people pays off. Jackson was able to distance himself from his situation through honesty and kindness. He shared what he had with others and asked nothing in return. This was part of his identity that he understood and is the reason he gave the clerk at the grocery store part of his lottery winnings saying “It’s an Indian thing. When you win, you’re supposed to share with your family” (Alexie). Every character in the story showed some type of kindness such as the man at the pawn shop giving Jackson twenty dollars or Office Williams giving Jackson thirty dollars to help get the regalia back. Ultimately Jackson got the regalia back but not because he got the $999 to buy it, but because of kindness and the man at the pawn shop giving it to him. Jackson felt much closer to his heritage after getting it back and said “I knew that solitary yellow bead was part of me. I knew I was that yellow bead in part. Outside, I wrapped myself in my grandmother’s regalia and breathed her in”… “They all watched me dance with my grandmother. I was my grandmother, dancing” (Alexie).
Just like the regalia, imperfect with its yellow bead, Jackson had his own imperfections. I believe everyone struggles with their identity at some point in their life and questions who they really are. We question the choices we make, the friends we keep, and the lifestyle we live. America is such a melting pot that it is often hard to get a clear picture of our roots and identify with our ancestors. We live our lives hoping that we are carrying on the traditions that made us who we are and that would make those who have gone before us proud. Jackson longed for the same sense of identity that we all do. Jackson believed that if he could get the regalia he would be reuniting with parts of his heritage that were lost after his grandmother passed away. He felt that his grandmother was with him again after putting on her regalia.

Works Cited

Crane, Stephen. "MAGGIE: A GIRL OF THE STREETS." Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. N.p., 06 Mar. 2001. Web. 01 Mar. 2014. .

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