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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What is a suitable alternate title for "The Gift of the Magi"?

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In order to come up with an alternate title for the wonderful inspirational Christmas short story "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry , we need to understand the plot of the story and what the writer is trying to say. I assume that if you have...

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this assignment you have already read the story, but let's go over it quickly just to refresh our memories.

"The Gift of the Magi" tells the story of a couple, Jim and Della, who love each other very much and want to get each other Christmas presents. However, they are poor and can't afford expensive gifts. Each of them has something they feel is more valuable than anything else they own. Jim has a gold watch, and Della has lovely hair. Della sells her hair to purchase a platinum fob chain for Jim's watch, and Jim sells his watch to purchase a set of tortoise shell combs with jeweled rims for Della's hair. The sacrifice that each makes for the other renders the gifts unusable, but O. Henry's point is that they have so much love for each other that they are each willing to give up the material things that they value most. That's why in the end Jim and Della's gifts are compared to those of the magi:

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. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

So when you think of alternative titles to this wonderful story, think of the love between Jim and Della and the sacrifices that they made for each other. Some examples of alternate titles might be "The Gifts of Love" or "Love's Sacrifices" or "The Real Magi." I'm sure you can come up with others.

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I believe that the question is asking for an alternate title for O. Henry's short story "The Gift of the Magi."  

You could really come up with just about anything as long as it relates to the story. Obviously, some titles will be better than others.

The story is about Jim and Della, so a possible title could be "Jim and Della." That's not that terrible of a title. I can think of several other stories that are titled after characters in the story. Thelma and Louise, Rocky Balboa, Bonnie and Clyde, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are all titles that feature character names only.  

You could base the title on the theme of selfless love. "A True Gift of Love" or "Selfless Love" could both work.  

You could even borrow Haddaway's "What is Love?" song title for the story. Of course, you would then get a really catchy song stuck in your head every time that you think of Jim and Della.  

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What would be another possible title for "The Gift of the Magi"?

Great question! When thinking about this kind of question, we need to remember that the title of short stories is always explicitly linked to the central theme of the stories concerned. In the case of "The Gift of the Magi," we can see how the title relates to the final paragraph of the story, when the narrator comments upon the original tradition of giving gifts at Christmas and how, even though some might say they were foolish, it is Jim and Della who most closely resemble the original intention of giving gifts and what it means in terms of sacrifice. This is of course one of the central themes, and I think it is particularly relevant in a time when we have so much and our lives are dominated by materialism. Whilst we do give a lot at Christmas, hardly any of that giving is sacrificial, and is rather an overflowing of what we already have. Perhaps then an alternative title could focus on this theme and meaning of the story by challenging us concerning our habits at Christmas. I am thinking of a title like "The Art of Sacrifice," or even something as simple as "Sacrificial Love." What do you think?

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