What is the summary of "The Gift of the Magi"?no

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stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

James and Della Dillingham Young are a young couple, very much in love. Their income has been reduced from sometime prior to the time in which the story takes place, so that Della has to bargain the price down as she's shopping for groceries and Jim wears a worn-out coat as he leaves their small and shabby apartment to go to work. Their two great material possessions are Jim's family heirloom pocket watch and Della's fabulous, knee-length hair.

The story takes place on Christmas Eve Day. Della has been saving whatever she can to purchase a Christmas present for Jim but has only $1.87, an amount totally inadequate to buy something worthy of being given to Jim. Della sells her hair for $20 and uses the money to purchase the perfect gift -

a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone...It was even worthy of The Watch....It was like him. Quietness and value-the description applied to both.

Della prays that Jim will not hate her head covered in short curls but eagerly anticipates seeing the watch attached to its rightful chain.

When Jim arrives home, he is shocked by Della's appearance but reassures her that he loves her regardless of her hair length. He then gives her the Christmas present he purchased for her -

the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pur tortoise shell, with jeweled rims-just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair.

Della eventually reminds herself and Jim of how rapidly her hair grows, then hurries to present her gift to Jim. However, Jim sold the pocket watch to raise the money to purchase the combs. He suggests they "put our Christmas presents away" for the time being.

The story ends with the observation that the Magi who came to visit the baby Jesus were wise men who brought gifts of great material worth, while Jim and Della were "two foolish children...who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house." In their demonstrations of love and devotion to each other, however, they showed themselves to be "the wisest" of all who give gifts, because their gifts were truly from the heart.

usagolsem | Student

A young lovely couple James and Della was very poor staying in a low rented house. When christmas comes Della was wondering and making her mind desperately as she had nothing worthy to gift her sweet heart a present, though she had been collecting $1.87 from hard bargaining at her shopping it was inadequate to buy him a present. Desperately she sold her precious hair at $20 to buy a fob chain for her Jim's old and shabby gold watch so that he could see the time with pride before othersOn the other hand Jim came having brought a set of comb of which Della had been admiring for long. She was much pleased and overjoyed to see it and presented her gift to him. Jim distracted the gifts for a while confessing he had sold his watch to afford to buy her combs. Thus, their precious possessions were gone for the sake of gifts for lovers on Christmas day. Though the magi were wise enough to present material gifts to baby Christ, their gifts were of much more valuable and significant than them (magi)since they showed their sincere love and sacrifice for each other