# What do the details in paragraph 7 tell you about Della and Jim's financial situation?

mrshh | Certified Educator

The paragraphs in the story 'The Gift of the Magi' are sometimes separated differently in various editions.  I will examine the content in a couple of paragraphs that can be paragraph 7:

Only \$1.87 to buy a gift for Jim.  Her Jim.  She had had many happy hours planning something nice for him.  Something nearly good enough.  Something almost worth the honor of belonging to Jim.

Della desires to buy a special gift for her husband, Jim.  She has been saving up her money, but still she only has \$1.87 to spend.  With less than two dollars, she knows that she will not have enough to buy what she wants, which is a chain for Jim's special pocket watch.  This shows that Jim and Della have very little extra money.

The following is another paragraph which is sometimes placed as paragraph 7:

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room.  Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an \$8 flat.  A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks.  Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

A pier-glass is a mirror, which is usually placed between two walls or two windows.  This mirror is not a good one because it comes with their \$8 per week furnished flat.  The furniture which comes with their flat is cheap, worn, and shabby.  They cannot afford to pay more than \$8 per week for a flat, which shows that their financial situation is not ideal.

All the editions are slightly different. So, it is not possible to know what paragraph that you are talking about. With that said, it is still possible to talk about their financial situation. In a word they are poor.

We know this from many details of the literary work. First, it starts with the words, "One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies." These words alone show the poverty of the young couple. Second, when their apartment is described, there is nothing fancy. For example, the couch is called "shabby and little." Third, they only pay eight dollars a month for rent. Within this society, this is not much.

Fourth, their salaries are mentioned as well. Again they are a very very modest couple. But most of all, the very fact that they had to sell their most prized possessions to buy presents for each other says it all. So, almost any detail shows their financial situation. It is a masterwork of loving in hard times.