The Gift Of The Magi Summary

The Gift Of The Magi Summary
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The gift of the magi is a short story composed by O. Henry, an American short story author. This story made its initial appearance in The New York Sunday world in 1905, on the 5th of December. Later on, it got published in The Four Million, O. Henry’s collection on the 10th of April 1906.

It narrates the story of a young couple Della Dillingham and Jim, also known as James. They have very limited finances and live in a modest apartment. They only own two possessions that they highly treasure. Jim owns a gold pocket watch he inherited from his father as well as his grandfather. Della, on the other hand, owns long lustrous hair that nearly touches her knees. Below is a detailed synopsis.

Plot Overview: All You Need to Know about the Story

Della is described as a young and faithful married woman. On the eve of Christmas, she only has a dollar & eighty-seven cents. This is the total of the savings that she intends to use in purchasing her husband a gift. Recently, the family income underwent a cut from a substantial thirty dollars each week to a paltry twenty dollars weekly. This has shifted Della from being a frugal person into parsimony. Even though she rents a flat whereby she pays a rent of eight dollars a week, her general environment does not at all meet the classifications of abject poverty. Della decides that Christmas cannot pass without buying for her husband, Jim a gift as a seasons reminder.

Distressed, she takes the dollar and eighty-seven cents as she moves disappointedly within her small house. Suddenly, upon catching an image of herself in a cheap pier mirror; an action only possible for a slender and nimble viewer, a perfect idea comes to her mind. While swiveling about in ecstasy, she decides to let down her long, beautiful hair.  It resembles brown sable and falls in the majestic fold until reaching just below her knees. After a brief episode of self-admiration, a tear drops from her eye. She then puts on her jacket and hat then leaves.

She intends to buy Jim a chain to strap on his pocket watch. However, all the available chains are too expensive for her. After dashing back home, she pulls her long hair down and stands in front of the mirror. She admires it and deeply thinking. A sudden idea then hits her, and she dashes out again and cuts her hair to sell it. She manages to sell it for $20; the precise cost of the platinum chain she came across via a shop window. It costs $21.

When Jim finally arrives home from work, he observes Della, as he tries to decipher what has changed about her appearance. She then stays the sold her to buy him a gift. However, before she hands it over to him, Jim pulls out a package from a pocket in his overcoat and hands it over to her. Within the package, Della is met with the sight of a pair of expensive decorative hair combs of which she had admired for a long time. However, they are now useless since she no longer has her hair. While hiding tears, she jumps in excitement and holds out the present she bought for Jim. I.e., the platinum chain. Jim then shrugs, and slumps down onto the sofa, he places his hands on the back of his head and tells Della that he sold his watch to purchase the combs.

The narrative then ends with a juxtaposition of Della and Jim’s gifts to the gifts that the three wise men or the Magi brought to the baby Jesus while in the manger. It was an anecdote to the story of Christmas in the bible. The storyteller concludes that Della and Jim are much wiser compared to the magi since theirs were gifts of love, and whoever gives out of love and self-sacrifice is indeed wise because he/she knows the essence of self-giving love.