The Gift of the Magi Questions and Answers
by O. Henry

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Why does the author call Jim and Delia the magi? Is the description justified? THE GIFT OF MAGI BY O.HENRY

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M.P. Ossa, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Magi are also known as "the Wise men". As far as O Henry, he used the play on words by calling them "foolish" at the beginning because of their youth, their seeming immaturity, and their situation.

However, it makes all the most sense at the end to understand how these three qualities are precisely what makes them so wise as far as love, commitment, and sacrifice. These latter are three characteristics that many people lack, and yet, they not only have them, but took them to the utmost for each other. This is how Jim and Della are magi (wise).

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Think about how these gifts were given: each sacrificed his or her most precious possession in order to obtain the gift the other would cherish the most. The Magi have been described variously throughout biblical and secular history, but most descriptions include some reference to their "priestliness." The acts that Jim and Della perform become sorts of rituals, in that the gifts have a symbolic meaning, possibly of a greater love.

Reread the ending a couple of times, and see if you can come up with your own response based on your emotional reaction to what happened, and how the characters themselved dealt with it. Did they become angry or resentful? No. They understood, and went on with their lives with the understanding that the benefits of the gifts would come later, as in the original Christmas story.

aritradas | Student

Treasure Trove ... uhhh ?? same down here .. :(

kc4u | Student

The true value of a gift lies in the sacrifice involved in it. When Christ was born, 'the Lamb of God' was a gift for the salvation of mankind. The self-sacrifice of the Lamb led the road to salvation.Three wise men from the East visited the babe in the manger and they brought gifts for the child.

In O. Henry's story, The Gift of the Magi, the young couple, Jim and Della sacrificed their most treasured possessions to buy gifts for each other. Della sold away her beautiful, cascading hair to buy a platinum fob chain of rare distinction for her husband's gold watch. Jim too parted with his most favorite watch to buy expensive combs of tortoise shells for his wife's wonderful hair. When they came to realize that they could not use each other's gift, they were neither angry nor frustrated because they understood how great were their admirations for each other.

By appearance their acts were foolish; but their foolishness  strongly attested their mutual love. Hence Jim and Della have been quite justifiably called the Magi.

mkcapen1 | Student

The writer used religious connotations from the Christian bible in his story "The Gift of the Magi."   There were the wise-men called he Magi who traveled to Christ to bring him gifts.  Christ was the sacrificial gift given to mankind. 

The young couple have seen what each other would like to have.  They want to demonstrate their love for one another and they chose to do this by giving each other a special gift.  To give he gifts each of them must make a personal sacrifice.  The woman sacrifices her beautiful hair that she feels is her best and beautiful feature.  The man sacrifices his watch that he had inherited and that was very special to him.  It was also his only possession of pride in the world in which he worked.

When he couple sacrifice their gifts, they are like the Magi who have traveled far to give gifts to the greatest sacrifice God has made for mankind.