What is the summary of "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"The Gift of the Magi," by O. Henry, is a short story about a poor young couple who teaches us all the definition of irony. The story opens on Christmas Eve, as Della Young desperately ponders what to buy her husband, Jim, for Christmas. She only has $1.87 to her name, which took her months to save. From the opening page, it's clear the couple is dealing with financial hardship, which causes Della to feel hopeless and cry.

As Della contemplates her next move, she catches a glimpse of herself in a tiny mirror. While Della and Jim don't have much, they have two items of value: a pocket watch that once belonged to Jim's grandfather, and Della's gorgeous hair. She pulls down her hair and watches it cascade around her face, shoulders, and back, all the way down to her knees. In this moment, Della makes a choice.

Della heads to a store owned by a woman named Mrs. Sofronie and sells her hair for $20. She takes the money and buys Jim a one-of-a-kind gold chain for his watch. But when Della returns...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 918 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team