Exposition: The narrator speaks directly to the reader and we learn within the first few paragraphs that the story will be about a young couple that has fallen on hard times. In fact, the very first sentence spells out that there is only “one dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies.”
Those were hard-earned and hard-saved pennies, as we realize. The home is “shabby,” and Della is the wife with Mr. James Dillingham Young, or Jim, being the husband. We also realize that despite the hard times, the young couple loves each other.
Rising action: We learn the conflict is that Della wants to buy “something fine and rare and sterling” for “her Jim,” but despite scrimping and saving, she had only $1.87 for his present and it is already Christmas Eve. The couple has two possessions
in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair.
Climax : Della realizes...
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