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The Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry
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Compare and contrast the writing of “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry and that of “The Waste Land” by Alan Paton.

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The writing in O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi” and Alan Paton’s short story “The Waste Land” is different in terms of what’s at stake and similar in terms of how the characters communicate with one another.

In both stories, the writing utilizes the...

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The writing in O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi” and Alan Paton’s short story “The Waste Land” is different in terms of what’s at stake and similar in terms of how the characters communicate with one another.

In both stories, the writing utilizes the absence of verbal communication between characters. In “The Waste Land,” the unnamed protagonist doesn’t need the young men to tell him that they intend to assault him. He knows and feels that he is in danger even though no words pass between the parties. Similarly, in “The Gift of the Magi,” Jim and Della don’t talk about the arduous efforts they’re making to buy each other Christmas presents. In both cases, the lack of spoken words creates conflict. In “The Waste Land,” the conflict and writing are violent. In “The Gift of the Magi,” the conflict and writing are interpersonal.

The presence of violence in “The Waste Land” contrasts with the absence of violence in “The Gift of the Magi.” In “The Waste Land,” the main character’s life is at stake. The writing focuses on the movements of his body and of his assailants. In “The Gift of the Magi,” the characters aren’t in a life-or-death situation. Here, the writing might come across as less intense and more contemplative.

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