illustration of two people, a woman and a man, looking at one another in profile with an ornate hair comb between them

The Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry
Start Free Trial

What conflict is revealed in the exposition of the story of "The Gift of the Magi"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The exposition , which is the beginning narration in the story, reveals the conflict between Della and a lack of funds. She does not have the amount of money that she wants to be able to buy her husband a quality gift. The exposition goes on to explain the monetary...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The exposition, which is the beginning narration in the story, reveals the conflict between Della and a lack of funds. She does not have the amount of money that she wants to be able to buy her husband a quality gift. The exposition goes on to explain the monetary struggle that Della and Jim have been facing up to this particular Christmas.

This conflict between the characters and their finances sets up the story to demonstrate true sacrifice. Della and Jim must both sell what is most important to them in order to afford gifts for each other. They do this without consulting each other, though, and it leads to an ironic situation where the gifts are rendered useless. Della sells her hair to buy Jim a watch chain, and Jim sells his watch to buy Della hair combs.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team