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
Start Free Trial

Why were the gifts given by Jim and Della considered to be wise gifts? Explain the irony of fate in the exchange of their gifts.

Expert Answers

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

The irony of their exchange is that they each sell their most dear possession in order to purchase something for the other.  Of course Delia sells her hair in order to purchase a watch chain for Jim.  Jim has sold his watch in order to buy combs for Delia.  So...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The irony of their exchange is that they each sell their most dear possession in order to purchase something for the other.  Of course Delia sells her hair in order to purchase a watch chain for Jim.  Jim has sold his watch in order to buy combs for Delia.  So their gifts are useless in the material sense.

The gifts can be considered wise, however, because each of them has sacrificed what makes them most proud in the world to buy a gift for the other, demonstrating a level of love and commitment that will likely be worth more than any earthly possession.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team