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What are the allusions in "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry (William Sidney Porter)?I...

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ms1512 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:09 AM via web

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What are the allusions in "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry (William Sidney Porter)?

I know right off hand that there are two-- the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

Is the Coney Island chorus girl an allusion as well?

What about the part where Della's hair is let down and it is described as "rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters"? Or is that a metaphor, rather?

Thanks.

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:27 AM (Answer #1)

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All of your listed allusions are indeed allusions because any allusion refers to something famous.

The "rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters" is a simile, not a metaphor because it is a comparison using like.

The greatest allusion is in the title, The Gift of the Magi, which refers to the sacrificial gifts the wise men gave after their long journey to find the Christ child. Each gift was fit for a king, but given under the humblest of circumstances. Each magi risked a great deal to get their treasure all the way to the baby Jesus. What is so cool about this allusion is how it parallels the journeys and careful efforts of Jim and Della during their gift-giving that Christmas. Think about it, their gifts became worthless. The gifts of the magi that original Christmas became worthless too in that nothing compared to the gift the Christ child was about to heap on humanity.

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