"And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house." Why were they the wisest of all the people who give gifts?

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O'Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" is a classic example of situational irony , in which events unfold in a way opposite than expected. Della sells her beloved long hair to buy an expensive watch chain for Jim's gold pocket watch. But meanwhile, he has sold his watch,...

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O'Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" is a classic example of situational irony, in which events unfold in a way opposite than expected. Della sells her beloved long hair to buy an expensive watch chain for Jim's gold pocket watch. But meanwhile, he has sold his watch, his most prized possession, to buy Della an expensive comb and brush set for her beautiful hair. Both have sold what they love to buy a gift that works out to be pointless for the other person.

But rather than frame this as a bitter ending, in which each is terribly saddened or angry or disappointed or crushed at having sold what they most love to buy a worthless gift, O'Henry explains that they were like the magi who brought valuable gifts to the infant Jesus. The love and sacrifice of self behind each gift proves to the other partner how deeply they are loved and draws them closer. These gifts may seem foolish to the world, just as it might have seemed a foolish waste for the magi to give costly presents to a poor, obscure infant. But it both cases, the gifts are wise because they show the value of pouring out everything we have in love for another person.

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At the end of the short story, O. Henry wrote the following:

And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house.

O. Henry compared husband and wife Jim and Della to the three Magi from the Biblical telling of the birth of Jesus.  Della sold her long hair in order to buy a platinum watch chain for Jim's beloved watch.  Jim sold his watch to buy a set of combs for Della's long, beautiful hair.  Neither spouse knew that their gift would be useless due to the sacrifice each made.  But rather than despair, Jim and Della appreciated each other's sacrifices.  In the end, the gifts were not what mattered the most.  Instead, their love mattered the most.  O. Henry stated that Jim and Della were the wisest because their gifts were given with love and sacrifice.  The very last line at the end of the story stated that Jim and Della "[were] the magi."

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