What lesson about life and love do you think Della and Jim learn?

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Sacrifice and love are two key elements of "The Gift of the Magi."  They learn these two lessons both as givers and receivers.  Each gave up something valuable out of love for someone else, and each received a gift of love from someone who sacrificed for them.  Sacrifice and love are the essential elements in this story.

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In the story, Della and Jim each think they are getting the other the perfect gift.  The irony is that each of them pays for the gift with something that makes the other's gift worthless (Della has no hair to put the combs in, Jim has no watch to hang from the chain).

I think that what happened should have taught them two main lessons, namely that

  • Their love was strong and that they were each willing to sacrifice for the other.  That's important in a relationship.
  • Love doesn't really need gifts like that.  Love doesn't need to be proved through material gifts.

 

 

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Well, the title of the story, "The Gift of the Magi", refers to the 3 wise men that brought Christ some very elaborate gifts as a token of their love and homage.  Both Jim and Della do the same; they present very expensive gifts, as a way to show each other that they love one another.  However, they learn that it is not the gift that matters, it is the sacrifice offered, the effort given, the lengths that one is willing to go to in order to show your love for someone.  Just as the 3 wise men most likely travelled a great distance to find Christ, through untold hardships, Della and Jim also sacrificed greatly to obtain the gifts they did.  But, in the end it wasn't the gift that mattered as much as their presence in each other's lives, and the fact that they were willing to do so much to show their love for each other.

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"The Gift of the Magi" teaches the meaning of true love:  Della and Jim love each other more than they love themselves, for they are willing to sacrifice the object of which they are proudest--her hair and his watch--in order to buy something which they hope will please the other.  For this reason O.Henry states that, paradoxically, "these two foolish children in a flat" are the "wisest of all who give gifts," wiser than the Magi who brought expensive gifts to the baby Jesus because they brought of themselves; they gave of their hearts.

Jim and Della are wise because they realize that their love is far more important than any material gift.

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The lesson learned by Della and Jim, in a bittersweet irony, is that love's sacrifices are sometimes the ultimate generosity. Because both sacrificed what was dearest to them to enhance the other person, neither winds up able to use the gift presented to them. In the case of Della, she sells her hair and recceives tortoise-shell combs from Jim. For Jim, he was presented with a watch chain from Della after having sold the family heirloom watch that the chain was intended for. The end result is that neither is able to use their present, but both still feel supremely blessed to have such a loving spouse.

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