What does Della do to buy her husband a Christmas gift in the short story "The Gift of the Magi?"

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the start of "The Gift of the Magi," Della has only saved $1.87 to buy her husband, Jim a Christmas gift, as they live frugally on a small income. Her husband owns a gold watch that is his most prized possession, and in order to buy him a platinum fob chain, she sells her hair, which is described as "a cascade of brown waters." Her hair is so long that it reaches past her knees. She sells it to a woman named Madame Sofronie for $20. Unbeknownst to Della, Jim has meanwhile sold his prize gold watch to purchase a set of tortoiseshell hair combs with jeweled rims that Della could wear in her beautiful tresses. In essence, Della sacrifices what means that most to her to buy her husband a Christmas gift, just as he sacrifices what means the most to him to buy her a gift.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a good question. Della cuts and sells her hair to get money to buy her husband a chain for his watch. Della does this ultimately because she loves Jim, her husband. Within the context, Della also does this because they are a very poor couple. She has been frugal all year long in saving money, but even with her extremely frugal ways, she has little money. So, she decides to sell her most prized possession to get something nice for her husband. So, she cuts her hair.

The irony of the story is that Jim sells his most prized possession as well, namely, his watch, and he buys combs for Della's hair, which now she cannot use.

The story is an example of sacrificial love.

ritu-25 | Student

Della is blessed with beautiful hair which resembles a brown water cascade. Della wants to buy a christmas present for her Jim, but has no enough money.. Poor della sells her beautiful hair so that with that money she can buy a gift for Jim. She sacrificed for her love......

mohak | Student

because dellas love for jim & it has been exchangiing of gifts from the birth of jesus when the magi (3 wise trader) navigated through pole star towards the stable & gave there gigts to jesus