The Gift Of The Magi Short Story Analysis With Summary And Theme

The Gift Of The Magi – This article will tell you the short story entitled, “The Gift Of The Magi” by O. Henry with story analysis, summary and theme in English. What is the theme, summary, plot, setting, character and point of view of The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry?

The Gift of the Magi Short Story Analysis With Summary And Theme
The Gift of the Magi Short Story Analysis With Summary And Theme

The Gift Of The Magi

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. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing left to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the look-out for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the letters of “Dillingham” looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard. To-morrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 Bat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its colour within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out of the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she cluttered out of the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mme Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One Eight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

“Give it to me quick” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

ASIDE FROM THE GIFT OF THE MAGI, SEE ALSO: 140+ Best Aesop’s Fables Story Examples With Moral And Summary

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. 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. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 78 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task dear friends–a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit of saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please, God, make him think I am still pretty.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two–and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was with out gloves.

Jim stepped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again–you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice-what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet, even after the hardest mental labour.

“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?”

Jim looked about the room curiously.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you–sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with a sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs–the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise-shell, with jewelled 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. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men-who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. 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. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

The Short story entitled, “The Gift Of The Magi,” is from americanliterature.com

The Gift Of The Magi Story Analysis

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry Analysis is a precise analysis of the short story to further understand its underlying message. Allow us to indulge ourselves by delving into the great story analysis of the story The Gift Of The Magi.

TitleThe Gift Of The Magi
AuthorWilliam Sydney Porter, known by his pin name O. Henry
Publication DateDec 10, 1905
SettingThe story is set in New York during Christmas. The primary characters of the story, Della and Jim, reside in a small yet tidy apartment. Due of their low income, it is lightly furnished.
ThemeThe story’s basic theme is that unconditional love is the greatest gift of all. Della and Jim’s sacrifices for one another demonstrate that love is more essential than material possessions. “Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest,” the narrator adds.
GenreShort story
Moral LessonThe moral of the story “The Gift of the Magi” is that people are willing to give up what is most important to them in order to be there with the one they love. In the story, the pair acts hastily in order to impress their spouse.
CharactersDella, Jim and Madame Sofronie
SummaryThe story revolves around James and Della Dillingham Young, a young couple who, despite their financial circumstances, resolve to give each other an elegant gift on Christmas Eve.

Della sells her lovely long hair to purchase a platinum fob chain for Jim’s antique gold watch. Meanwhile, Jim sells his prized watch to buy jeweled tortoiseshell combs for Della’s luscious locks.
The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry Short Story Analysis
The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry Short Story Analysis With Summary, Characters, And Theme

The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry

William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910), better known by the pen name O. Henry, was a short story writer in the United States of America.

O. Henry Collection - The Portal to Texas History
William Sydney Porter, known by his pin name O. Henry

Porter was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, and moved there when he was a child. With Athol Estes, he had two kids. He moved to Texas in 1882 and met her there. After his wife died in 1902, Porter moved to New York, where he soon married again. Porter wrote 381 short stories while in New York.

Porter has written “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Duplicity of Hargraves,” and “The Ransom of Red Chief,” among other stories. If you like surprise endings and witty narration, you should read his stories. Another thing Porter did was write poetry and non-fiction, as well.

Porter’s legacy includes the O. Henry Award, which is given out each year to short stories that are well-written.

The Gift Of The Magi Theme

The story’s basic theme is that unconditional love is the greatest gift of all. Della and Jim’s sacrifices for one another demonstrate that love is more essential than material possessions. “Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest,” the narrator adds.

The Gift Of The Magi Genre

The Gift of the Magi is a short story with realistic fiction elements. It is told in a wistful and sympathetic tone. The story revolves around a young husband and wife who face the task of buying covert Christmas gifts for each other with very little money.

The plot and its surprising finale are well known; the ending is widely regarded as an example of humorous irony. The story was purportedly written in New York City at Pete’s Tavern on Irving Place.

The Gift Of The Magi Moral Lesson

The moral of the story “The Gift of the Magi” is that people are willing to give up what is most important to them in order to be there with the one they love. In the story, the pair acts hastily in order to impress their spouse.

The Gift Of The Magi Characters

Time needed: 1 minute.

Here are the characters in the short story The Gift Of The Magi.

  1. Della

    She is Jim Dillingham’s compassionate, gorgeous, and loving wife. Her only cherished asset is her magnificent hair, which reaches from her head to her knees. She seemed to be concerned about how to get a Christmas present for her husband. So she decided to cut her hair in order to purchase him a fob chain. This demonstrates her profound affection for Jim as well as her selflessness.

  2. Jim

    James Young Dillingham, often known as Jim by Della, is a 22-year-old male who is burdened with the obligations of running a home and a family. He, like his wife, has only one valued possession: a gold watch passed down through generations. He, like his wife, traded his prized property to get a tortoise comb for Della. This reflects his feelings for Della.

  3. Madame Sofronie

    She is the owner of the salon where Della sells her hair. She is described as harsh and cold. Furthermore, she did not waste time examining and paid twenty dollars for Della’s hair.

The Gift Of The Magi Summary

The story revolves around James and Della Dillingham Young, a young couple who, despite their financial circumstances, resolve to give each other an elegant gift on Christmas Eve. 

Della sells her lovely long hair to purchase a platinum fob chain for Jim's antique gold watch. Meanwhile, Jim sells his prized watch to buy jeweled tortoiseshell combs for Della's luscious locks.

More Stories To Enjoy

Aside from The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry Story Summary Analysis, here are more stories for you and your children to enjoy.

This short story, called “The Gift Of The Magi is written by O. Henry. “The Gift Of The Magi” tells of the couple’s unending love and how they sacrificed their greatest assets for one other. On the one hand, Della trimmed her hair to save money for Jim’s fob chain. Jim, on the other hand, sells his gold watch, which has been passed down through generations, in order to get a lovely comb for Della.

Based on The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry Short Analysis With Summary, Characters, And Theme, O’ Henry uses the Christmas predicament to emphasize that the holiday is more than just the exchange of gifts. Instead, it denotes togetherness, sincerity, and affection. You can celebrate it even if you don’t have any materials if your heart is pure.

Inquiries

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post, “The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry Short Story Analysis With Summary, Characters, And Theme 2022.” Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Thanks for reading. God bless

Leave a Reply