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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Describe Jim and Della's characteristics in "The Gift of the Magi".

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Jim and Della, the characters in "The Gift of the Magi", are simple working-class individuals who are young and in love. They are portrayed as impulsive and foolish in material ways, but wise in their spirit of love and sacrifice. Della is emotional, generous, and acts without thinking things through, while Jim is responsible, philosophical about loss, and equally generous. Both characters are unselfishly willing to give up their most valuable possessions for each other, reflecting their deep love and sacrifice.

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That Jim and Della are simple working class people is revealed in Della's speech: ""Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?" That they are young and in love is revealed by the biased limited third-person narrator: "Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family!" That they are foolish in material ways is clearly stated by the narrator: "two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other." That the narrator is representing their material foolishness as spiritual wisdom that reflects the wise sacrifices of the first Christmas Magi is made clear by O. Henry's didactic ending: "these two were the wisest."

Della is an emotional young woman who is maybe not yet twenty, since Jim is but twenty-two. She is demonstrative with her feelings and generous in her love. While she is foolish in her longings and desires for a better life, "her heart had simply craved and yearned over [the combs]," she seems to be wise in her spirit of giving (though if it weren't Christmas, her actions might not have the same effect). She is given to sobbing loudly and letting tears fall on the carpet, and she acts impetuously without thinking things through, such as not thinking about how to apportion the $20 gotten for from her hair to buy a gift and expand their budget.

Jim is a responsible working man, though very young and already with Della to provide for. He is as generously giving and sacrificial as she. He is philosophical about loss; he sat on the sofa with his hands behind his head and suggested they save the gifts for awhile. He bases his love for Della on deep qualities, not on superficialities. Jim seemingly similarly used the whole value received from his watch sale for Della's gift without thought to buying a lesser gift and to expanding their budget. Neither have foresight though both are praised by O. Henry as sacrificially giving and loving.

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What are Della and Jim's character traits in "The Gift of the Magi"?

O. Henry carefully portrays both Della and Jim to be characters with whom the reader can identify and empathize. 

Della comes across as young and impetuous.  Her bold and quick decision to cut her hair reveals her to be hasty at making decisions.
Later, as she waits for Jim to return and prays that he will still find her attractive, the reader also finds that Della is eager to please and vulnerable.  She is loving, kind, and incredibly unselfish to give up her most valuable possession. 

The reader sees less of Jim, since he only makes his debut at the end of the story, but through his reaction to Della's hair and also Della's own thoughts of him, the reader can draw many conclusions about Jim's character.  Foremost, the reader knows him to be a kind and loving husband; Della thinks the world of him and would not have sacrificed her hair for him otherwise.  O. Henry also portrays Jim as being hard-working to make ends meet for his family.  The young man is tired and stressed with worry about providing for his young bride.  The detail that he has no gloves in the winter reveals that he too is unselfish, putting off his own comfort in order to help Della more, and of course, the sale of his valuable, heirloom watch shows that he is truly unselfish as well.

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What characteristics do Della and Jim Young have in "The Gift of the Magi"?

It should also be noted that the one characteristic that unites both of them is the understanding of the true value of love. Jim and Della symbolise O. Henry’s vision of true love which crosses the boundary of materialism and enters a much larger locale where everything needs to be judged in terms of its aesthetic value. In the final section of the story O. Henry says: “everywhere they are wisest”, where the word “wisest” denotes that these two characters understand the true value of love not by the material value of the gifts which they receive, but by the aesthetic value of them. Materialistically the gifts will be valueless to both of them, but in terms of the representation of the value of love, the gifts would remain invaluable.

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What characteristics do Della and Jim Young have in "The Gift of the Magi"?

Delia and Jim share similar characteristics, they are both loving and giving people.  Each is concerned with giving the other a special gift for Christmas.  

Jim wants to make his wife happy by giving her a gift that will really please her, and Delia wants to make her husband feel really special, so each makes a great sacrifice for the other. 

Their shared characteristics include:

"Quietness and value—the description applied to both."

"Delia again shows unselfishness, courage, and resilience." 

"He works hard, not returning home until seven o'clock, and is reliable"

"Jim reacts with gentle humor and the same kind of resilience Delia has shown."

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In the story "The Gift of the Magi," what are the two characters Della and Jim like?

They are both selfless and giving.  They care more about each other and are willing to give up their most prized possessions to please the other.  However, they are either unlucky or are not very good planners--because they both ironically are unable to use the gifts they receive. 

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In the story "The Gift of the Magi," what are the two characters Della and Jim like?

Delia and Jim are poor. They are a loving married couple who are each selfless individuals.  They each sacrifice their prize possessions in order to obtain money to buy the other a Christmas gift.

"She is a pretty, slender young woman. Her long brown hair, when she lets it down, cascades past her knees."

"Delia again shows unselfishness, courage, and resilience, reminding him that her hair grows quickly and that she loves him."

"Delia's husband, Jim, is a thin, serious young man, twenty-two years old. O. Henry tells the reader what Jim is like,"

"Quietness and value—the description applied to both." He works hard, not returning home until seven o'clock, and is reliable: ''Jim was never late.''

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Can you give a brief character sketch of Jim and Della in the short story, "The Gift of the Magi"?

This is a good question. From the details of the short story, we can say a few things about Della and Jim.

Della was a frugal, careful, responsible person. We know this, because she saved every penny literally. We read this right in the beginning of the story.

"One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied."

Della also loved Jim very much. As we read the story, we realize that Della had beautiful hair and she gave up this hair to buy Jim a chain for his pocket watch. We can say that Della's love was manifested in her sacrificial giving.

When it comes to Jim's character, the short story does not say much. However, we can say that Jim was a responsible and reliable person. Della does make the comment that he was never late. Most importantly, he was equally a loving person, because he sold his prized possession, his watch, to buy combs for Della hair.

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