Story Reflection What You Pawn I will Receive by Sherman Alexie

Character is an important element to this story, because all of the choices made in the story and the wild directions the story takes have to do with the background of the main character Jackson.  Jackson is a homeless and alcohol addicted Indian and therefore makes all of his choices the way a homeless and alcohol addicted person would.  I could look at this from my point of view as an educated and financially secure white women and say that he made silly choices – throughout the story he earned/found over $150 between the $100 lottery ticket, the $20 head start, and the $30 from the officer and spent it all when he needed to save it for the regalia.  However when you put yourself in Jackson’s shoes, you realize he made the only choices he knew and his need to survive each passing moment was stronger than his need to save for the regalia.  This does not mean that saving for the regalia was not important – Jackson maintained all along that he was on that mission whenever he spoke with anyone such as the officer and his friends in the start of the story.  The problem was that when he was hungry and probably going through alcohol withdrawals, he first needed to eat and drink with the money he got rather than holding it in his pocket while he was hungry.  The author did a good job of putting the reader in the narrator’s shoes, the choices seemed natural and there was no guilt behind any of them.  This is simply what this type of character would do.

While this story has some unique circumstances, the main character is one that I see on a regular basis in my line of work aiding refugees and also underprivileged local populations.  It would be very cheeky and tone deaf of me to suggest to these people to save the bit of money they have because I am not living their life of poverty.  These people are living a moment to moment life, while I am living a paycheck to paycheck life, and others I work with are living a care free life.  I am quite positive that most of the people I meet in my life would make these same choices that Jackson did, and this story is a reminder to not judge them harshly for that.  Hopefully Jackson got some peace at the end of the story when he danced in his grandmother’s regalia.