What two things do Jim and Della most love in "The Gift of the Magi"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Della and James Dillingham Young are not materialistic, they each take pride in one possession. Della is proud of her luxurious hair; Jim is proud of his gold watch.

In O. Henry's delightfully sentimental short story entitled "The Gift of the Magi," the young, loving husband and wife have fallen upon hard times. But, because it is the Christmas season, Della and Jim want to purchase presents for each other. So, in order to buy a present for the other, each of the spouses sells their own most-valued possession. Della goes to Madame Sofronie and sells her hair so that she can buy a platinum fob chain for her husband's handsome watch. Jim pawns his gold watch in order to purchase for his wife a set of lovely tortoise-shell combs that have jeweled rims.

Della and Jim prove that they love each other more than they love their prized possessions because neither of them is upset when unable to use the Christmas present. Della hugs the combs and tells her disappointed husband, "My hair grows so fast, Jim!" and Jim suggests that they put away their presents for a while. He explains, "I sold the watch to get the money to buy the combs."  

With typical sentimentality, O. Henry concludes his narrative,

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. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest.... They are the Magi. 

Love such as that shared by Della and Jim Dillingham is far more important than any material possession, even if it is cherished.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this story, the two characters, Jim and Della, do not have much money but want to give each other nice Christmas presents.  They want to give each other presents that will go well with their most treasured "possessions."

For Jim, his most treasured possession is his pocket watch, handed down from his grandfather.  For Della, it is her long, beautiful hair.  She wants to get him a chain for the watch, he wants to get her combs for her hair.

I wouldn't say those are the things they love most, though.  It's pretty clear from the ending of the story that they love each other more than they love material things.

keziann | Student

They both love each other.
Jim loves his watch thatbelonged to his fathers and his granfather's. Della loves her hair.

trulytito | Student


In short Jim loves <!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> his pocket watch, which is handed down from his grandfather, but he loves Della more.

And on the other hand, Della loves her long beatuful hair, but similarly she loves Jim more.


Thank you.