The Gift of the Magi Questions and Answers
by O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi book cover
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What is the message of "The Gift of the Magi"?

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Steph Müller eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The message of this short story is that love is the most important gift that two people can ever give to one another.

By deciding to sell her treasured hair so that she would have the money to buy her husband Jim a watch fob for Christmas, Della Young proves that her love for her husband is greater than her love of anything material. By selling his beloved watch to buy Della combs for her beautiful hair, Jim proves the exact same thing.

The story concludes with the narrator stating that, due to the fact that both of them gave gifts from the heart, they both have the wisdom of the Magi.

In other words, the message of this story is that love is a greater gift than any material item could ever be.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In this story, innocent Della and Jim, a young married couple, are the modern day Magi. The Magi were wise men who came and, out of love for Jesus as messiah, gave gifts to the infant child.

Della and Jim have an ironic mix-up when she sells her beloved long hair to buy a watch chain for Jim for Christmas. Jim meanwhile sells his watch to buy Della a costly comb and brush set she has long coveted.

Despite the mix up of each buying a gift that the other person could no longer use, Della and Jim are wise because they sacrificed for one another. They reveal their love in the lengths they are willing to go in order to please the other.

The message of the story is that sincere love captures the spirit of Christmas more perfectly than any gift we can possibly buy for another person.

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"The Gift of the Magi" is a Christmas story, one that still resonates today many years after its publication. In December, many people are thinking of buying presents and also thinking about spending money, so readers sympathize with Della's problem. We would all like to be generous if we could afford it. But O. Henry's story tells us that it is not the gift that is important but the thought behind it. Jim understands and appreciates all the thought that Della has given to his present. Della spent months saving up money to buy him something especially nice, and she also spent the whole year thinking about what she should get. She not only decided on a watch fob but then spent a long time deciding exactly what kind of watch fob it should be. O. Henry's Christmas story tells us that real love is always shown in caring more about someone else than we care about ourselves. Jim and Della really love each other. Della cares more about Jim than she does about herself, and Jim cares more about her than he does about himself.

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