The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry | Summary and Analysis

The Gift of the Magi by O Henry
The Gift of the Magi is a beautifully written story, first published in 1905, that tells the tale of a young couple, Jim and Della, who are deeply in love but living in poverty. Despite their financial struggles, they are determined to find the perfect gift for each other for Christmas.

The Gift of the Magi: Characters

Della Dillingham Young: Della is Jim’s young wife. She takes great pride in her beautiful, long hair.
James “Jim” Dillingham Young: Jim, at age 22, is the husband of Della, and his most valued item is a gold pocket watch that was passed down through his grandfather and father.
Mme. Sofronie: Mme. Sofronie, proprietor of a hair goods shop, pays Della 20 dollars for her hair.

The Gift of the Magi: Plot Summary

As the story unfolds, we see the sacrifices and selflessness that each character makes in order to give the other the gift of their dreams. Della, who is deeply in love with her long luxurious hair, decides to sell them in order to buy Jim a chain for his watch. Jim, on the other hand, decides to sell his beloved watch in order to buy Della the special set of combs, she had always wanted for her hair.
The story is a poignant reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, and the love and generosity that can be found within all of us. It is a celebration of the simple, yet profound, acts of kindness that can make a world of difference in someone’s life.
Throughout the story, we see the characters struggling with their own insecurities and doubts, and we witness the transformative power of love and compassion. Della, for example, is initially filled with self-doubt and anxiety about selling her hair, but she eventually finds the strength and courage to do so in the name of love. Similarly, Jim would have undergone the same dilemma of parting with his most loved possession but ultimately both thought about what really matters most to the ones they love.
The Gift of the Magi is a heartwarming tale that will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted. It is a story that reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas, and the joy and fulfillment that can be found in giving to others. It is a celebration of the human spirit and the power of love to overcome all obstacles.


Most frequent questions and answers
The main theme of “The Gift of the Magi” is selflessness and the power of love. The story follows a young couple, Jim and Della, who are poor but deeply in love. Despite their financial limitations, they want to give each other the best possible gifts for Christmas. In order to do so, they each sacrifice something dear to them – Della sells her beautiful long hair to buy Jim a watch chain, and Jim sells his cherished watch to buy Della combs for her hair. Their gifts, while practical, are ultimately meaningless without the other’s love and sacrifice, and their actions demonstrate the depth of their devotion to one another. The theme of selflessness is also evident in the couple’s willingness to give up something they value in order to bring joy to their loved ones.
According to Christian tradition, the Magi are the “three wise men” who traveled to Bethlehem from somewhere in the east to deliver presents to baby Jesus. As the Magi were wise folks so the gifts they gave to Jesus must have been wise too, the best thoughtful gifts anyone could have chosen. In the story, Jim and Della, just like the Magi, gave each other the wisest gifts of all, gifts of selfless love. They sacrifice their most prized possessions in order to give each other meaningful gifts for Christmas.
The main conflict in the story The Gift of the Magi is the financial struggles and lack of resources faced by the main characters, Jim and Della, as they try to find the perfect gifts for each other during the holiday season. Despite their love and affection for one another, they are unable to afford expensive gifts and must make sacrifices in order to show their love. This conflict creates tension and emotional turmoil for both characters as they try to navigate their limited financial resources and find a way to give each other meaningful gifts.
The conclusion of The Gift of the Magi is that the love and selflessness of the main characters, Jim and Della, are stronger and more valuable than any material possession. Despite facing financial struggles, they both make sacrifices to give each other meaningful gifts for Christmas, showing that their love for each other is more important than anything else.
William Sydney Porter, better known by his pen name O. Henry, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1862. As a young man, he moved to Texas and married Athol before working variously as a ranch hand, pharmacist, book keeper and bank teller. He wrote stories during his spare time, but was later accused of embezzling money from the bank and fled to Honduras for several months. He returned to the US upon learning of his wife’s illness, and eventually served a prison sentence. After his release, he moved to New York City and began writing under the pseudonym O. Henry, becoming renowned for his surprise endings. Sadly, he passed away in 1910 from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 47.
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