What social commentary is the narrator trying to make about the love and gift of giving in O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi?"

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The best commentary about the story from the perspective of the narrator is found in the last paragraph of the story. The narrator makes reference to the title of the story and the wise men in the Christmas story from the Bible. Then, he calls the married couple "two foolish children" (Elements of Literature, Third Course, pg. 292) because that is what many in society would probably call them for not communicating about their gift-giving before running off and making rash decisions. Happily, the narrator continues by saying, "But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two were the wisest." By calling the couple "children" and then calling them the "wisest," O. Henry shows that even though mistakes can happen, the couple showed the greatest part about gift-giving, which is the love behind the gift. Society can be very judgmental with first reactions to stories like these; but, after some thought, a deeper look into such situations is better and more beneficial to understanding a deeper meaning.

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