The Gift Of The Magi
(O. Henry, William Sydney Porter)
This is a short story by O.Henry, arguably his most famous.
ways it is the definition of irony, but also shows the sacrifices that
people are willing to make for those whom they are in love with. It is
a classic to read in middle school English classes when doing a unit on
short stories. It is also a classic Christmas story.
Della and Jim are a young poor couple who own two prized
Della's long, beautiful hair and Jim's fancy gold watch that used to
belong to his father. It is Christmas time and Della does not have
enough money to buy Jim a present, so she cuts and sells her hair, and
then uses the money to buy Jim a nice watch chain. Jim comes home and
is stunned to see Della's short hair, for his gift to her was a set of
fancy combs she could use in her hair. She tries to reassure him that
her hair will grow, and then gives him her gift. Once again, Jim acts a
little surprised, because he tells her that he sold the watch to buy
her the combs, so they should just forget about the presents altogether.
O.Henry ends the story by saying that the Magi who gave baby
wise in inventing the art of gift-giving, but says that Jim and Della are wiser
because of the great sacrifices that they made because of their love for each
Obviously the irony comes from the fact that because each of
two characters sold their prized possession, it made the gift that they
received useless, for the gifts were accessories for these treasures. Without
her long hair, the combs are useless to Della, just like a watch chain is to
Jim, because he no longer owns a watch.
The comment on the sacrifices that lovers make just shows the goodness
in people's hearts, and that we all do our best to try to please one
another. Yet sometimes, the result is funny.