The Gift of the Magi Questions and Answers
by O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi book cover
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What are Jim and Della's most valued possessions?

In "The Gift of the Magi," Jim's most valuable possession is his gold watch, which he inherited from his father and grandfather. Della's most valuable possession is her long, beautiful hair, which is so attractive and lovely that the Queen of Sheba would have been jealous if she saw it.

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In O. Henry's celebrated short story "The Gift of the Magi," James and Della Dillingham Young are an extremely poor, loving couple who are resourceful and selfless. Both characters sacrifice their most valuable possessions in order to purchase each other worthy Christmas presents, which turn out to be useless but illustrate their love.

Although Della and James live in poverty, they have two valuable possessions which they take pride in owning. James's most valuable possession is his gold watch, which is an expensive family heirloom that he inherited from his father and grandfather. O. Henry writes that Jim's gold pocket watch would have made the wealthy King Solomon jealous if he laid eyes on it. Della's most valuable possession is her long, flowing hair, which reaches below her knees.

In the story, James and Della experience a dilemma when they attempt to purchase each other worthy Christmas presents without enough money. Della recognizes that Jim's gold watch could use a new chain to replace the worn leather strap and ends up selling her beautiful hair for twenty dollars. Della sacrifices her most prized possession to purchase Jim an expensive platinum fob chain for his watch.

Ironically, Jim sacrifices his valuable gold watch to purchase Della an expensive set of bejeweled combs, which she can no longer use. Although James and Della's gifts are useless, O. Henry considers the couple "the wisest" because their love for each other supersedes any material gift that they could have purchased.

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