What was Jim's gift to Della? Was it a suitable gift?

Expert Answers

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

Jim's gift was indeed suitable. It was a set of combs for Della's hair, of which she was extremely proud. The love displayed in this work is evident from the outset. Both Jim and Della's thoughtfulness shows the depth of feeling each has for the other. The willingness to sacrifice that which they hold so dearly for the other is a timeless example of what a relationship should be.

The irony that they both sold their prized possession for the joy of the other - only to discover that the plan had "backfired" is surely a classic in this genre. What O'Henry accomplishes in this simple tale is to inspire countless others to a more genuine and joyful life. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Della and Jim are poor.  Really poor.  They cannot afford to buy each other gifts for Christmas because putting food on the table is more important.  In order to afford a gift for each other, Della and Jim (independently) sell their most prized possession to get money for the gift.  Jim sells his watch.  Della sells her beautiful hair.  Della's gift to Jim is a chain for his watch (which he just sold).  Jim's gift to Della is a set of combs that she wants for her hair (which she just sold).  

Yes, his gift was suitable.  Jim knows that Della's hair is beautiful, and he knows that she takes great pride in it too.  The combs are a perfect gift, because Jim knows that Della will love putting them in her hair to even further enhance its beauty.  The gift is both thoughtful and long lasting.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial