illustration of two people, a woman and a man, looking at one another in profile with an ornate hair comb between them

The Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry
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Why is it said that the gifts Jim and Della gave each other "were no doubt wise ones possibly bearing the privilege of exchange rather than duplication"? Explain with reference to the gifts the Magi brought baby Jesus.

Expert Answers

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This is a great question. 

First, Jim and Della were called wise, because they learned the lesson that it is better to give than receive. Their giving of their best shows this point very clearly. In other words, they learned to give sacrificially in view of their love. 

Second, the story shows in a powerful way that giving is the point. In the end, Della has a combs for her hair, but she has no more hair (at least long hair), and Jim has a chain, but no longer has his watch. This sounds foolish, but to think this is to miss the point. Giving in love is what is underlined.

Finally, in connection to the story of Jesus's birth. The wise men from the East came to pay homage to the baby Jesus and offer gifts. They gave with no thought of recieving. This is really the point of the short story. 

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