The Gift of the Magi Short Story Analysis

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“The Gift of the Magi” by O.Henry is a short story about James and Della Dillingham Young, and the events that occur one Christmas eve. The story begins with Della Dillingham Young frantically gathering her money to purchase a gift for her husband Jim Dillingham. Della loves her husband Jim so much, that she sacrifices her beloved hair in order to purchase a wrist band for Jims watch. Unbeknownst to her, Jim sacrificed his watch to purchase a set of combs that she always desired. Love, sacrifice and wealth are three main themes that can be found in this short story. The love that Della and Jim share is unconditional. They are willing to sacrifice their most prized possessions to please one another. Although they are poor their love for one another makes them rich.

The setting takes place on Christmas Eve in a very modest apartment. The couple’s humble living environment helps the reader clearly visualize their poverty. The fact that Della and Jim are poor forces them to sacrifice, while simultaneously making the sacrifices more meaningful. O.Henry uses imagery to depict the couple’s cheap, shabby living arrangements. The author creates a strong contrast between their poverty and their rich love for one another. This quote assists in illuminating this contrast: “She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard.”

“The Gift of the Magi” is a fable. The author uses a simple situation to help make a complex moral point. The moral of this story is unconditional love is greater than physical riches. The tone of “The Gift of the Magi” is reminiscent. The narrator is not a character in the story, and appears to speak directly to the audience. The narrator seems to be very wise, and well informed about the world. This can be seen when the narrator states: “There was clearly nothing 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...
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