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The Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry

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What is the conclusion of "The Gift of the Magi"?

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The conclusion of “The Gift of the Magi” is that, though Jim and Della were foolish in buying each other useless gifts, in doing so they nonetheless showed the real value of giving. They are wise in that they understand that the act of gift-giving involves love.

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By a strange and deeply ironic combination of events, Jim and Della have ended up giving each other useless gifts for Christmas. Jim has given Della a fancy set of combs for her beautiful hair. The trouble is that Della has sold most of her hair to pay for a new watch chain for her husband. However, Jim sold his watch to buy Della those fancy combs, and so Jim and Della have ended up receiving useless gifts from one another.

However, Jim and Della are much too sympathetic to be treated by O. Henry as fools. It would be unfair in the extreme if the conclusion of the story made them out to be foolish. While O. Henry does admit that they were foolish, he also goes on to say that among those who give and receive gifts, they are the wisest.

What Henry means by this is that Della and Jim understand that the act of gift-giving is steeped in love. It isn't about whether the relevant gifts are of immediate use. It's the thought that counts, as well as the loving sentiments that go into the thought behind the giving of a gift. Herein lies true wisdom.

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What is the theme of the story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry?

Most people are aware of the expression “It's the thought that counts,” meaning that it's not what you give that matters but the thought behind it. And this longstanding truism undoubtedly constitutes one of the main themes of “The Gift of the Magi” by O.Henry.

Both the characters in the story, Della and Jim, inadvertently give each other worthless gifts for Christmas. Della buys Jim a chain for his watch by using the proceeds from selling her hair to an upscale salon. At the same time, Jim, blissfully unaware of what Della has done, buys his wife a set of fancy combs using the money he received from selling his watch. Each wanted to give the other something special for Christmas, but now they've both been lumbered with things they can't actually use.

But in the final analysis, none of this matters. In giving each other worthless gifts, Jim and Della may not have been wise; but, as the narrator points out, they nonetheless showed wisdom in selling the most valuable thing they owned in order to buy a gift for the other. This is because Della and Jim know that, when it comes to the act of gift-giving, it's the thought that counts.

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What is the theme of the story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry?

The central theme of “The Gift of the Magi” is explicitly discussed at the end of the story, when the author addresses the reader directly, relating his characters to the wise men in the Bible. This theme is the true nature of wisdom. The three men who brought gifts to the infant Jesus are described as “wonderfully wise,” and the author goes on to say that this means “their gifts were doubtless wise ones.” This presents a contrast with Della and Jim, who have been unwise in sacrificing their most precious possessions to buy gifts which have turned out to be useless from a practical point of view.

In terms of practical wisdom, therefore, Della and Jim are foolish. However, there is a higher wisdom, which consists of loving another person more than oneself. These young people are wise enough to know that possessing a fine-looking watch or having long, lustrous hair are trivial matters. These material things were never as precious as their love for one another. In the final paragraph, the author first says that Jim and Della “were not wise,” then conducts a swift volte-face in his “last word to the wise of these days.” By this he means the type of practical people who might be inclined to sneer at Della and Jim for their folly. Such people, in the words of Oscar Wilde, know “the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Della and Jim are wise because they understand what truly matters.

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What is the theme of the story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry?

In "The Gift of the Magi," O. Henry frames love through a lens of self-sacrifice. Both Della and Jim give up their own dearest possession in order to purchase a gift for the other. In doing so, O. Henry determines that the spirit in which these gifts were given proves far more powerful and profound than the content of the gifts themselves.

As the story begins, Della is wanting to purchase a Christmas present for her husband. The problem, however, is that they are poor, and she does not have enough money to purchase a gift. As O. Henry proceeds to tell us, both Della and Jim have possessions which they treasure above all others: for Jim, it is his watch, and for Della, it is her hair. To acquire the money to buy Jim a present, Della sells her hair and later uses that money to purchase a chain for her husband's watch.

Meanwhile (unbeknownst to Della), Jim has made a similar sacrifice, selling his prized watch in order to purchase a set of combs for his wife. In that respect, the ending is an ironic one. However, in the end, the gifts themselves are far less important than the spirit in which they were given and the sacrifice that went into them—qualities which prove far more valuable than material possessions.

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What is the theme of the story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry?

There are three main themes defined within O. Henry's short story "The Gift of the Magi."

Love

The theme of love is shown through the selfless actions of both Della and Jim. Each, through a showing of love for the other, sells their most valuable possessions in order to purchase Christmas gifts for their spouse. Della sells her hair in order to buy Jim a chain for his watch. Jim, on the other hand, sells his watch in order to buy Della combs for her hair. Therefore, the theme of love is shown through the fact that each love the other more than their most prized possessions.

Generosity

Similar to the theme of love, the generous nature of both Della and Jim is evident. While each loves their prized possessions, Della's hair and Jim's watch, each are willing to sell their possessions in order to make the other happy. Although they are poor, they are both rich in their generosity for the other.

Wealth and Poverty

The concepts of wealth and poverty are important themes in the story as well. While financially poor, Della and Jim prove to be emotionally rich. The love they have for each other overshadows their poverty.

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What is the theme of the story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry?

Another theme is the material value or materialism. Here these folks are economically stretched. When they each give up an item for the other, it happens to be the most important item or object in the world to them. This shows that their relationship is of more value than things which is a strong point O. Henry is trying to make.

On the flip side, as each receive an item from each other because the items required to use the new gifts are gone, they have absolutely no value. So now, rather than them both having something they value, what they have materially is worthless and all they are left with is their relationship. This may not be such a bad deal after all.

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What is the theme of the story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry?

One of the major themes in the short story "The Gift Of The Magi" by O Henry is the gift of giving - particularly in a loving marital relationship. The word Magi is significant in this theme as it is a reference to the Magi or three wise men/kings in the story of the Nativity of Jesus Christ in the christian religion at Christmas. Magi is another name for men of knowledge or wisdom - you may notice the similarity with the word magic. of course, another related theme is the idea of wisdom - so not only giving but wise and prudent giving. Jim and Della have love and lots of it, for each other. They also have generosity and unselfishness - but do they have wisdom in the manner of their giving and loving and in their choice of gifts?

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What is the climax of the story "The Gift of the Magi"?

This is Della's story and is told entirely from her point of view. She has a problem. She wants to buy her husband a nice Christmas present but she has only managed to save a dollar and eighty-seven cents. So she impulsively decides to sell her hair, without taking time to give the consequences any thought. After she sells her hair for twenty dollars she buys Jim an expensive watch-fob. But then she has a new problem. She is afraid her husband won't love her any more when he sees how she looks. (Naturally the tough woman who bought Della''s hair took as much as she could without actually scalping the poor girl.) So the story is all about how much Della wants Jim's love. She sacrificed her hair to give him a present that would make him love her, but now she is afraid her sacrifice will have just the opposite effect. When Jim sees her he looks shocked. Della is terrified. The reader thinks Jim is really going to lose his affection for his young wife because she has lost her most beautiful feature. But instead he assures her that nothing could make him love her any less than he does. And to prove how much he loves her, he gives her the beautiful set of combs and explains that he had sold his treasured pocket-watch to raise the money for her Christmas present. This is the climax of the story. Afterwards, O. Henry does some philosophizing about love and Christmas and the Magi, but this is all anticlimactic. This is O. Henry's most famous story. It has one of his trademark surprise endings, but it leaves the reader with a genuine feeling of sympathy and affection for these two young people who were so poor and yet so rich because they had such love for each other. 

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What is the climax of the story "The Gift of the Magi"?

The interesting fact about the climax of "The Gift of the Magi" is that it is part of two twists in the plot. The first, is the moment when Jim comes home, sees Della and sees that her hair is cut short. That itself is not the climax, but the preamble to it. The climax comes when he explains his shocked reaction by showing her the gift that he had gotten for her: combs for her long her.

The meaning of this is that his reaction was not out of shock at her looks, but due to the fact that he now realizes that she had made a sacrifice the same way that he did. They both gave up something very dear to them for the sake of one another.

For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshiped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession.

It is after the discovery of the combs that the rest of the action begins to slow down steadily, and this is why that is the climax. After it comes the second twist: Della has also a surprise for Jim; she got him a watch chain. Although none of the gifts do any good at his point, the act of sacrifice of this young couple speaks a lot about them and reflects the love that they have for one another.

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What is the climax of the story "The Gift of the Magi"?

The climax of the story is when the couple, Jim and Delia Young, discovers that they have both sacrificed their most beloved and valued personal possessions to buy gifts for each other. Delia sells her hair to buy a silver watch fob for Jim; while Jim sells his precious silver antique watch to buy tortoiseshell combs for Delia's hair. The gifts they give no longer have any used, except to symbolize the depth of their love and willingness to make sacrifices for each other.

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What is the narration of "The Gift of the Magi"?

In his delightfully romantic short story, "The Gift of the Magi," the authorial voice often intrudes, but O. Henry's intrusiveness is sentimental and often light-hearted as well as respectful in its humor. In the exposition, for example, O. Henry gives a fatherly voice to the narrative: 

...While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home.... Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far.Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are.

Then, after Della has sold her hair, O. Henry comments after describing Della's efforts to "repair the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task." 

Clearly, O. Henry injects into his narration his brash humor as well as his moralizing. His closing paragraph, indeed, exemplifies this moralizing as he writes,

But in a last word to the wise....Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the Magi.

O. Henry's moral does remain with the reader. For, the author extols the foolish impulses of the two lovers as driven by love and, thus, having being rooted in a deeper wisdom, that of completely unselfish giving. This has been his lesson.

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What is the narration of "The Gift of the Magi"?

The Gift of the Magi describes the efforts of a married couple to buy each other the perfect Christmas presents, when neither of them have much money. They each end up sacrificing their most treasured possessions in order to buy a complimentary gift for the other's treasure, rendering their gifts useless but emphasizing their love and commitment.

The story is told from a third-person perspective, meaning that the narrator is not one of the characters in the story. The narrator refers to everyone as "he" "she" or "they", although on one or two occasions the narrator addresses "you", the reader, in reference to experiences that the reader may have; "The magi, as you know, were wise men", which attempt to engage the reader's involvement in the story and communicate its point.

Most of the narration follows Della, describing her actions, and revealing Jim's actions only at the end of the story. This means that the narrator is following a single-character point of view. Because the character's feelings and attitudes are described, the narration is also subjective, as opposed to an objective narrator that merely describes facts.

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What is the subject in the story "The Gift of the Magi"?

This excellent tale is normally taught as an example of situational irony, when the last thing we expect to happen actually happens, and we grieve with Jim and Della over the irony of what has occurred. However, it appears that apart from this, O. Henry had another purpose for writing the tale, as is made clear in his final paragraph, where he discusses the relevance of the title of this story to the action as a whole. According to the narrator, the real "gift" in this story is the kind of love that inspires radical sacrifice and intense generosity, as demonstrated through Jim and Bella and their love for each other.

Thus it is that the narrator discusses the identify of the Magi and how they set up the tradition of giving gifts and then relates it to his tale:

And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two were the wisest... They are the Magi.

So, even though we may laugh at the unfortunate turn of events that lead Jim and Bella to sell their most precious possession to buy something for the other to use with their most precious possession, according to the narrator, it is the spirit behind the gift giving that makes them closest to the original Magi and the original spirit of present giving. This is the purpose of the tale, as the author challenges us and the generosity behind the gifts that we give.

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What is the theme of "The Gift of the Magi"?

Two aspects of one theme that run together in this story are sacrifice and love.  Jim and Della already possess the greatest gifts they can ever possess: they have each other's love, a love that is willing to sacrifice for that love. 

They are compared to the Magi, who knelt at the manger where the infant Jesus lay and brought gifts to honor him.  But they knew, the Magi, that their gifts were small insignificant tokens compared to what this infant child would give to them.

They honored him, just as Della and Jim honor each other by sacrificing their prize possessions to buy the other a worthy gift for Christmas.  It is the sacrifice involved in this process that is at the heart of the theme--unselfish love, which is rare and should be cherished.

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What is the theme of "The Gift of the Magi"?

The main, general theme of this story by O. Henry is that giving is the greatest gift of all. Della gives up her most cherished possession, her beautiful hair, to get a gift for her husband, Jim. She buys him a fob for his favorite possession--a pocket watch. Jim sells his pocket watch to buy beautiful combs for Della to adorn her hair. Both gave up their most valued possession in order to give something to the one they loved. The story is classic O. Henry with well developed characters, a city setting for the impoverished pair of young marrieds, and an ironic twist to the end of the story.

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What is the theme of "The Gift of the Magi"?

In O'Henry's "The Gift of the Magi," Jim and Della were financially impoverished, but wealthy in love. In fact, they loved one another so much that they were willing to sacrifice their most prized possessions in order to demonstrate genuine love to one another.

The central theme of the selection concerns love and self-sacrifice. Either spouse could have offered the other a gift that would have sufficed for holiday giving. However, the sincere desire to offer a perfect gift moved Della to cut her hair in order to purchase a chain for Jim’s watch. It also moved Jim to sell his watch so that he could buy a set of combs for Della’s hair. He knew that she’d admired the set and he wanted to surprise her with the gift. Although neither was able to make immediate use of the gifts, they were both impressed by the degree of love and sacrifice evidence in the purchases. In fact, the author reminds the reader:

“But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest.”

In this statement from the text, O’Henry clarifies his theme for the reader. The value of the gifts was measured by the loving sacrifice made by each spouse. These selfless acts are priceless, more valuable than item that money can buy.

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What is the theme of "The Gift of the Magi"?

In O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi," the third-person narrator suggests that sacrifice equals love, which equals wisdom. He sums up the theme of the story in the last paragraph:

"And here I have told you the story of two children who were not wise. Each sold the most valuable thing he owned in order to buy a gift for the other. But let me speak a last word to the wise of these days: Of all who give gifts, these two were the most wise. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the most wise. Everywhere they are the wise ones. They are the magi."

In this story, Della has her hair cut so it can be sold and she can have money to buy her husband, Jim, a Christmas present, a chain for his watch, his prized possession. Ironically, Jim sells his watch so he can have enough money to buy his wife, Della, a set of combs for her long hair, her prized possession.

The reader might be tempted to look at the actions of the two as something silly, and, in fact, the narrator calls their actions, "not wise." In addition, Della's reactions throughout the story suggest a certain childishness. She decided "There was nothing to do but fall on the bed and cry" when discovering she didn't have enough money for a gift. She creates an over-importance in buying her husband a gift that would demonstrate "Something almost worth the honor of belonging to Jim."

However, the narrator makes it clear that both Della's and Jim's actions are symbolic of sacrifice that is necessary when it comes to love. His comparison of their actions to the gifts of the Magi at the birth of Christ demonstrates the importance of their sacrifices. 

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What is the theme of "The Gift of the Magi"?

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.

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What is the conflict in "The Gift of the Magi"?

I believe the main conflict is O. Henry's famous story has to do with lack of money. The fact that Christmas is fast approaching makes the conflict more pressing. Christmas is a "ticking clock"--a time factor that magnifies a conflict in any story. Both Jim and Della have their separate conflicts but they are both closely related. Jim wants to buy Della a Christmas present because he loves her, but he has no money. Della wants to buy Jim a Christmas present because she loves him, but she has no money either. Both sacrifice prized possessions in order to obtain money for the presents, but, ironically, both find that they have made mistakes. This, however, is not serious, since their sacrifices only prove their love for each other. It is a touching Christmas story. Della's hair will grow back and Jim will be able to redeem his watch from the pawn shop.

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What is the conflict in "The Gift of the Magi"?

We can answer this question in a few ways. 

From one perspective, we can say that the conflict rests on poverty.  Della and Jim are a loving couple, but they do not have enough money.  So, when Christmas comes around, they cannot buy a gift that reflects their love for one another. So, they are frustrated, particularly Della. 

As the story progresses, Della and Jim come up with a plan independently.  Della decides to sell her hair to buy Jim a chain for his watch.  Jim decides to sell his watch to buy combs for Della's flowing hair.  As you can see, in the end, they both have gifts that cannot be used.  From this perspective, the conflict is outdoing each other in love.  This type of conflict is beautiful.  This is why O. Henry calls them wise and why he calls the story, "The Gift of the Magi." 

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What is the complication of the plot in "The Gift of the Magi"?

In "Gift of the Magi" the main complication stems from the impoverishment of the young couple; Della and Jim simply do not have enough money to purchase Chirstmas gifts for each other.  This problem is suggested in the exposition of O. Henry's poignant story:

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid thirty dollars per week.  Now when the income was shrunk to twenty dollars, the letter of 'Dillingham' looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D.

Also in the exposition, Della cries after counting her meager one dollar and eighty-seven cents which will not pay for the beautiful watch fob which she desires to give her husband for a Christmas present. 

The resulting rising action that comes from this original complication gives rise to Della's inner conflict of cutting her hair which Jim loves and of which she is so proud.  Jim, too, suffers from inner conflicts resulting from the complication of penury as he wrestles with the idea of selling his gold watch to buy the beautiful combs for his wife's Christmas present.

A touching plot, indeed--and relevant today in this material world-- the story,"The Gift of the Magi," has a resolution to this complication that many would do well to ponder.  As O. Henry remarks, "They [Della and Jim] are the wisest of all."

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Could you summarize the story "The Gift of the Magi"?

"The Gift of the Magi" is the story of Jim and Della, a couple who is getting ready for Christmas at a time when they don't really have very much.

Both of them are willing to sacrifice their most prized possessions to purchase their spouse something great for Christmas. The story ends up having a great irony to it because they each purchase an item intended to magnify their greatest possessions.

Della has beautiful locks of hair. They are so georgeous and long that she can easily have it cut and sold. She made a great profit for it and purchased her Jim a chain for his watch.

Jim sold his watch to purchase Della beautful combs to hold her locks of hair.

Christmas rolls around and they exchange gifts. The gifts become useless. This is a great tale to analyze the value of material items.

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What are the themes of the story "The Gift of the Magi"?

There are several themes in "The Gift of the Magi," but the most important are the themes of love and selflessness.  The two main characters, Della and Jim, each have a profound love for one another; the story states, "One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. She had put it aside, one cent and then another and then another, in her careful buying of meat and other food. Della counted it three times. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas. There was nothing to do but fall on the bed and cry. So Della did it." Despite saving what little money she was able to, Della is unable to save enough to buy a gift she finds worthy of her husband, Jim, "something almost worth the honor of belonging to Jim."  Della sells her beautiful hair in order to get enough money to buy Jim a watch chain. She loves him so much that she sacrifices something very important to her to buy him something he truly wants, showing both themes of love and selflessness.  

As the story progresses, the reader is concerned about Jim's reaction of seeing Della with her short hair; he stops and seems upset. However, as the details are further revealed, the reader learns what truly happened when Jim says, "Let’s put our Christmas gifts away and keep them a while. They’re too nice to use now. I sold the watch to get the money to buy the combs."  Della and Jim each sacrificed their own most prized possessions, Della's hair and Jim's watch, to purchase something for the other; however, each item is now rendered useless because of what they sold. 

At the end of the story, the third person narrator equates the two characters to the magi - wise men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus, the first Christmas gifts. Though the originally narrator states these two were not wise because "each sold the most valuable thing he owned in order to buy a gift for the other," he then explains to the reader that of all gift givers, these two are the most wise and compares them to the magi because of their love and selflessness.  

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