What is the problem, and different types of figures of speech used in the story "The Gift of Magi?"

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major problem in this story is brought on by money.  The young couple (Jim and Della) want to give each other nice Christmas presents, but only have very little money ($1.87).  The problem in the story revolves around what they do to try to get money to buy presents.

There are a number of literary devices used in this story.  They include:

  • Alliteration.   For example, the author says that life consists of "sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating."
  • Hyperbole, which means exaggeration.  O. Henry uses this a lot.  For example, he claims that Della is skinny enough and agile enough to look at herself in the "pier glass."  This seems to be implying that they can't afford a mirror.