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What is the climax of the story "The Gift of the Magi"?

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grandmasetergogo | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 8, 2009 at 10:57 PM via web

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What is the climax of the story "The Gift of the Magi"?

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted September 11, 2009 at 2:41 AM (Answer #3)

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The climax of the story is when the couple, Jim and Delia Young, discovers that they have both sacrificed their most beloved and valued personal possessions to buy gifts for each other. Delia sells her hair to buy a silver watch fob for Jim; while Jim sells his precious silver antique watch to buy tortoiseshell combs for Delia's hair. The gifts they give no longer have any used, except to symbolize the depth of their love and willingness to make sacrifices for each other.

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ike13 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:00 AM (Answer #1)

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The climax is when they open their gifts(which no longer have any use).

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tenzaisakuragi | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 9, 2011 at 10:16 PM (Answer #2)

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i think the climax is the oart when della sell her hair. because my teacher said that the climax in a shor story is the part that would make you think about the next part or like "what will happen next? will she... will he..." that's only for me..teehee

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 5, 2015 at 6:58 PM (Answer #5)

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The interesting fact about the climax of "The Gift of the Magi" is that it is part of two twists in the plot. The first, is the moment when Jim comes home, sees Della and sees that her hair is cut short. That itself is not the climax, but the preamble to it. The climax comes when he explains his shocked reaction by showing her the gift that he had gotten for her: combs for her long her.

The meaning of this is that his reaction was not out of shock at her looks, but due to the fact that he now realizes that she had made a sacrifice the same way that he did. They both gave up something very dear to them for the sake of one another.

For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshiped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession.

It is after the discovery of the combs that the rest of the action begins to slow down steadily, and this is why that is the climax. After it comes the second twist: Della has also a surprise for Jim; she got him a watch chain. Although none of the gifts do any good at his point, the act of sacrifice of this young couple speaks a lot about them and reflects the love that they have for one another.

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ritu-25 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 23, 2011 at 7:40 PM (Answer #4)

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Della sells her hair in order to buy a gift for Jim.On the other hand Jim buys combs for Della's beautiful hair thinking that she would be impressed. But on returning home he finds Della in her new look...I think thats the climax.... 

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 5, 2015 at 11:30 PM (Answer #6)

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This is Della's story and is told entirely from her point of view. She has a problem. She wants to buy her husband a nice Christmas present but she has only managed to save a dollar and eighty-seven cents. So she impulsively decides to sell her hair, without taking time to give the consequences any thought. After she sells her hair for twenty dollars she buys Jim an expensive watch-fob. But then she has a new problem. She is afraid her husband won't love her any more when he sees how she looks. (Naturally the tough woman who bought Della''s hair took as much as she could without actually scalping the poor girl.) So the story is all about how much Della wants Jim's love. She sacrificed her hair to give him a present that would make him love her, but now she is afraid her sacrifice will have just the opposite effect. When Jim sees her he looks shocked. Della is terrified. The reader thinks Jim is really going to lose his affection for his young wife because she has lost her most beautiful feature. But instead he assures her that nothing could make him love her any less than he does. And to prove how much he loves her, he gives her the beautiful set of combs and explains that he had sold his treasured pocket-watch to raise the money for her Christmas present. This is the climax of the story. Afterwards, O. Henry does some philosophizing about love and Christmas and the Magi, but this is all anticlimactic. This is O. Henry's most famous story. It has one of his trademark surprise endings, but it leaves the reader with a genuine feeling of sympathy and affection for these two young people who were so poor and yet so rich because they had such love for each other. 

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