What is the narration of "The Gift Of Magi"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In his delightfully romantic short story, "The Gift of the Magi," the authorial voice often intrudes, but O. Henry's intrusiveness is sentimental and often light-hearted as well as respectful in its humor. In the exposition, for example, O. Henry gives a fatherly voice to the narrative: 

...While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home.... Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far.Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are.

Then, after Della has sold her hair, O. Henry comments after describing Della's efforts to "repair the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task." 

Clearly, O. Henry injects into his narration his brash humor as well as his moralizing. His closing paragraph, indeed, exemplifies this moralizing as he writes,

But in a last word to the wise....Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the Magi.

O. Henry's moral does remain with the reader. For, the author extols the foolish impulses of the two lovers as driven by love and, thus, having being rooted in a deeper wisdom, that of completely unselfish giving. This has been his lesson.

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caledon's profile pic

caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Gift of the Magi describes the efforts of a married couple to buy each other the perfect Christmas presents, when neither of them have much money. They each end up sacrificing their most treasured possessions in order to buy a complimentary gift for the other's treasure, rendering their gifts useless but emphasizing their love and commitment.

The story is told from a third-person perspective, meaning that the narrator is not one of the characters in the story. The narrator refers to everyone as "he" "she" or "they", although on one or two occasions the narrator addresses "you", the reader, in reference to experiences that the reader may have; "The magi, as you know, were wise men", which attempt to engage the reader's involvement in the story and communicate its point.

Most of the narration follows Della, describing her actions, and revealing Jim's actions only at the end of the story. This means that the narrator is following a single-character point of view. Because the character's feelings and attitudes are described, the narration is also subjective, as opposed to an objective narrator that merely describes facts.

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