Filling in the Blanks of Montana 1948 In Montana 1948 by Larry Watson, David’s father believes that all Indians are “ignorant, lazy, superstitious, and irresponsible,”(22) all qualities that through Jackson’s quest to restore his grandmother’s regalia in What You Pawn I Will Redeem by Sherman Alexie, are proven to be obscured from the truth. Even though the Haydens are so respected in Mercer County, while Native American Jackson Jackson lives a life of homelessness, the kind, generous qualities of Jackson make him a more likeable character than the Hayden family.
When these two pieces of literature are compared to each other, it is clear that Jackson Jackson fills in the blanks of Montana 1948 with redemption for the Native Americans that reveals their true character and proves the wrongness of bigotry. When in disbelief of Marie’s accusation of Frank for his sinful reputation, Wes defends his brother saying, “She’s an Indian – why would she tell the truth? ” (46). One of the common misconceptions of Native Americans in Montana 1948 is that they can’t be trusted, and in extension, that what they say doesn’t matter.
In What You Pawn I Will Redeem, Jackson is faced with the same skepticism when he tells the pawnbroker that the regalia belonged to his grandmother, and the pawnbroker “looked at [him] like [he] was a liar. ” (3) However, Jackson is able to prove him wrong with a yellow bead that was hidden beneath the armpit of the regalia. Just like Jackson, Marie’s accusations are proven to be true in Montana 1948, showing that the true intent of Native Americans is often overlooked.
Another false impression of Native Americans by the Haydens relates to their spiritual beliefs and culture. When Frank was asked to treat Marie’s illness, he mockingly said that he’d do a “little dance around the bed,” and “[beat] some drums. ” (35) Here, Frank makes fun of their rituals and beliefs, showing his little respect and naive opinion towards the culture of Native Americans. Jackson Jackson in What You Pawn I Will Redeem however, proves how much his Native American culture means to him during his mission to buy back his grandmother’s regalia from the pawnshop.
He’d seen “photographs of [his] grandmother dancing in it,” (3), which is a strong part of his culture, and is ultimately what unites him and his grandmother together once again when he is wearing her regalia, dancing with her. He realizes that the “solitary yellow bead was part of [him],” (20) symbolic of his loyalty to his Native American heritage. In Montana 1948, David is not allowed to wear his moccasins because Wes tells him that if he wears those, he’ll become as “flat-footed and lazy as an Indian. (34) On the other hand, Jackson Jackson proves that he is anything but lazy in his endeavor to make enough money for the regalia. Jackson walked through Seattle, selling newspapers, connecting with other Indians like the Aleut cousins, because of his determination to earn the money. In addition to his hard work for the money, he displayed his generosity by spending and sharing his money with others. For example, after winning a hundred dollars from the lottery, he gives twenty of it to Mary, the cashier, despite how badly he needed it.
He explains that “it’s an Indian thing,” (10) to share with others when you win something. With these words, Jackson shows that this generosity is common among all Native Americans, and is an admirable trait that was definitely disregarded by the Haydens. It is obvious that Native Americans do not get the credit they deserve from the Haydens in Montana 1948, who are too quick to jump to conclusions about the true character of Indians.
As a whole, readers are more drawn to Jackson Jackson’s character because of his trustworthy, loyal, and generous personality that not only goes unnoticed and ignored by the Hayden family, but would also be admirable traits in anyone, no matter what color their skin. Larry Watson’s novel, Montana 1948, depicts Indians as “ignorant, lazy, superstitious, and irresponsible,” (22) through the eyes of the Hayden family, while Jackson Jackson of Sherman Alexie’s short story What I Pawn You Will Redeem, fills in the blank and complements the novel by revealing the honorable truths of Native Americans.