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The Cornell Notes for O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" are accessible at the link cited in the Sources below. Here they are, also:
“The Gift of the Magi” (261)
1.How is Della similar to the character Mathilde Loisel from “The Necklace”?
2.How is Della different from Mathilde?
3.Why do you think the author capitalizes “The Watch” (263)?
4.What did Della do in order to get the money for Jim’s Christmas present (263)?
5.What does Della buy Jim for Christmas (263)?
6.How do you know Della has an immature outlook on the important things in life (264)? Quote your evidence from the story.
7.What does Jim buy Della (265)?
8.What did Jim do in order to get the money for Della’s Christmas present (266)?
9.What type of irony has occurred by the end of the story (dramatic irony, situational irony, or verbal irony)? Explain your answer.
10.Read the last paragraph of the story. What lesson does the author want you to learn from this story?
[In the future, please limit questions to 3 at the most]
1. Della is similar to Mme. Loisel in that she is young, pretty, and does not have the money to buy what she desires.
2. Della differs from Mathilde Loisel because she is not selfish or vain; instead, she sacrifices her beautiful hair for a gift for her husband while Mathilde takes her husband's money that he has saved for a gun and buys a dress for a ball. Furthermore, her proud refusal to tell Mme. Forestier that she has lost the necklace she borrowed causes her husband untold deprivation. Della wants to look pretty for her husband, but Mme. Loisel yearns for attention from many others. In fact at the ball, she ignores her husband. But, Della is totally devoted to her husband.
3. O. Henry capitalizes "The Watch" to signify its importance to Jim as his prized possession.
4. After Della discovers that she only has $1.87, she sells her luxurious hair
5. Della purchases a watch fob; that is, a chain or ribbon that connects to the pocket watch and acts as a counterweight. It is easier to pull out the watch with a fob, and the watch stays in place better with this counterweight.
6. Della is naive and innocent; she cries when she does not have enough to buy Jim a watch fob. Then, after she sells her hair, and obtains enough money, she worries that Jim will be angry, praying that he will still love her, much like a child would worry about a parent's reaction to something she has done.
7. Jim purchases Della a set of lovely combs for her long hair.
8. Ironically, Jim sells his watch so that he can purchase these combs.
9. This irony is one of situation; for, things do not turn out as Della and Jim have expected.
10. O. Henry remarks upon the beautiful, unselfish, pure love that these "two foolish children" have for each other. While they may have acted impetuously, they acted out of genuine, unselfish love--true love. For this reason they are wise because Jim and Della comprehend the meaning of love.
Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the Magi.
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