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In the short story  "The Gift of the Magi" how does Jim react after he gives Della...

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oliviax3 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 7, 2009 at 7:52 AM via web

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In the short story  "The Gift of the Magi" how does Jim react after he gives Della her present?

Jim planned to buy Della a pair of combs that she saw but were to expensive for her to buy. So Jim has to sell his gold watch to get money for the combs.....after that, what actually happens?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 7, 2009 at 8:12 AM (Answer #1)

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In O. Henry's poignant story, "The Gift of the Magi," Jim is astounded when he returns from work and sees Della, whose hair has been cut off.  He

He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face....'You've cut off your hair?' asked Jim laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

Jim looked about the room curiously. 'You say your hair is gone?' he said, with almost an air of idiocy.

Jim is nonplussed; he can synthesize the fact when he has sacrificed to buy her the combs for this luxuriant hair that is no longer a possession of Della.  How will he make her happy?  How can he give her the Christmas present that he joyously anticipated giving?  As O. Henry puts it, Jim is in a "trance" ; however, it is to his credit that he does not become angry or scold his loving wife, even though he has given up his most valued possession for no apparent reason.  Instead, he hugs his wife, he "enfolded his Della," and tells her that there is "nothing in the way of a haircut...that could make [him] love [her] any less."

Jim instructs Della to open her present; when Della does so, she utters an "ecstatic scream of joy," at the combs she has long coveted, and then she cries hysterically until Jim again hugs her.  At last, she, too, makes no complaint; instead, she hugs them to her, telling her husband that her hair will soon grow. 

When Della gives Jim the watch chain for which she sacrificed her beautiful hair, Jim "tumbled down" upon the couch, knowing that he has no watch, for he has sold it to buy the combs for Della.  Jim suggests they put their presents away for a while.  After all, they realize that they have already received gifts far greater than these material possessions.  And, for this reason "they are the Magi," they are "the wisest."

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kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted October 7, 2009 at 11:43 AM (Answer #2)

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The other editor said it well. Jim is stunned after he hands her the present. He could not have imagined what she did, cut off her hair.

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