This narratorial comment at the end of O' Henry's story The Gift of the Magi refers to the couple, Jim and Della, who exchanged gifts during the Christmas. Della sold her brown cascading hair, her most treasured possession, to buy a platinum fob chain for her husband Jim's gold watch which he felt so proud to possess. Jim too made a similar sacrifice to offer his wife a gift expressive of his love for her. He sold his watch to buy a set of wonderful combs for Della's hair. When Jim returned and saw Della shorn of her beautiful hair, he knew that his gift would be of no use for his wife. Della's gift for Jim would also be of no use .
The three wise men from the East brought gifts for the babe in the manger, Christ. Like them Jim and Della brought gifts for each other. Their gifts were useless for the time being, and they could appear to be rather foolish to part with their fond possessions for no use. But the narrator/author believes that they were the 'wisest', much wiser than the Magi, for their gifts were prompted by genuine mutual love.
Let me try to answer this question in my own way.
At first have a look at that dictionary.
Let's try to find out the meaning of the word 'wise'.
According to dictionary, 'wise' means-
- (v.) Dictated or guided by wisdom; containing or exhibiting wisdom; well adapted to produce good effects; judicious; discreet; as, a wise saying; a wise scheme or plan; wise conduct or management; a wise determination.
- (v.) Having knowledge; knowing; enlightened; of extensive information; erudite; learned.
- (v.) Versed in art or science; skillful; dexterous; specifically, skilled in divination.
- (v.) Hence, prudent; calculating; shrewd; wary; subtle; crafty.
- (v.) Hence, especially, making due use of knowledge; discerning and judging soundly concerning what is true or false, proper or improper; choosing the best ends and the best means for accomplishing them; sagacious.
- (v.) Way of being or acting; manner; mode; fashion.
And now let's find out the meaning of the word 'fool'-
Dictionary says 'Fool' means-
- (v. i.) To play the fool; to trifle; to toy; to spend time in idle sport or mirth.
- (v. t.) To use as a fool; to deceive in a shameful or mortifying manner; to impose upon; to cheat by inspiring foolish confidence; as, to fool one out of his money.
- (n.) A compound of gooseberries scalded and crushed, with cream; -- commonly called gooseberry fool.
- (n.) A person deficient in intellect; one who acts absurdly, or pursues a course contrary to the dictates of wisdom; one without judgment; a simpleton; a dolt.
- (n.) One who acts contrary to moral and religious wisdom; a wicked person.
- (n.) One destitute of reason, or of the common powers of understanding; an idiot; a natural.
But we should remember these are only the opinion of dictionary. And in the story O' Henry has proved the opinoins wrong.
In fact the story 'The Gift of Magi' we surprisingnly notice the meaning of these two words 'wise' and 'idiot' are interchanged. What we call 'wisdom' is shown as 'foolishness' in the story, and what we think 'foolishness' in general is established as 'wisdom'. And the process of interchanging of meaning of these two words has not been forced but it is thoroughly proved. And it has been done very substantially.
O' Henry concluded his story with this narrational comment. You may think it is the view of the author towards Jim and Della or their love, scarifice etc for each othe...
But I don't think it is so.
Read the story. Read about the sincere love of Jim and Della for each other, read the sacrifices they did in the story to give some joy to other, read these and at the end of the story, I am sure you will be confused between the words, 'wise' and 'fool'.
And I shall not be surprised at all if the reader after reading the story comments-
"Of all who gave gifts these two were the wisest "
So at the end of the story the opinion of the author somehow becomes identical with the reader's view. And this view is more of the reader than the author. In fact this line is a hint given by the author that forces a reader to be sympathetic towards Jim and Della and their love for each other.
Thus the author is successful in his attempt, establishes a new fact and the story becomes incredible.