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stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Gift of the Magi uses the actions of Jim and Della to illustrate the basic theme that the most valuable gifts of all involve self-sacrifice and sincerity of motivation, not lots of money. Della sacrifices her most treasured possession, her hair, in order to buy the watch fob chain that would properly compliment Jim's pocket watch.

It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation-as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch.

Jim sold his prized pocket watch in order to purchase a set of tortoise shell hair combs that would be a glorious accent in Della's fabulously long hair.

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

O. Henry is providing a lesson on the value of love expressed in affection and action and saying that this type of devotion is more intelligent and more worthy of recognition than expensive gifts bought by wise but unfeeling magi.

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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