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

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What is the conclusion of "The Gift of the Magi"?

The conclusion of “The Gift of the Magi” is that, though Jim and Della were foolish in buying each other useless gifts, in doing so they nonetheless showed the real value of giving. They are wise in that they understand that the act of gift-giving involves love.

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By a strange and deeply ironic combination of events, Jim and Della have ended up giving each other useless gifts for Christmas. Jim has given Della a fancy set of combs for her beautiful hair. The trouble is that Della has sold most of her hair to pay for a new watch chain for her husband. However, Jim sold his watch to buy Della those fancy combs, and so Jim and Della have ended up receiving useless gifts from one another.

However, Jim and Della are much too sympathetic to be treated by O. Henry as fools. It would be unfair in the extreme if the conclusion of the story made them out to be foolish. While O. Henry does admit that they were foolish, he also goes on to say that among those who give and receive gifts, they are the wisest.

What Henry means by this is that Della and Jim understand that the act of gift-giving is steeped in love. It isn't about whether the relevant gifts are of immediate use. It's the thought that counts, as well as the loving sentiments that go into the thought behind the giving of a gift. Herein lies true wisdom.

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