Comparing The Gift of the Magi and Thank you, Ma’am
At first, The Gift of the Magi and Thank you, Ma’am are quite different stories. However, once you analyze it further, their similarities will be found, such as how they share a universal theme: kindness is worth more than wealth and objects. In The Gift of the Magi, this is shown as the main protagonist, Della, sacrificed her most prized possession in order to purchase a gift for Jim, her significant other. Jim also sacrifices his most prized possession to obtain a gift for Della. On the other hand, in Thank you, Ma’am, the theme is shown by the main protagonist, Mrs. Jones, teaching a young boy named Roger how to respect and show kindness through her own generosity and caring actions. She does this all, despite how Roger attempted to pickpocket her.
In The Gift of the Magi, Della sacrificed her most prized possession in order to afford a gift, as she lived in poverty with her significant other, Jim. Della put his happiness first and demonstrated how her love for Jim outweighed her love for her hair and money, which is demonstrated as she went to sell her hair for money. Della was eager to sell the hair and treated it with practically no concern, or at least compared to how she treated her hair with caution in the beginning of the story. It is also revealed at the end, that Jim sacrificed his beloved watch, so he could purchase a gift for Della. He put his happiness aside and proved how his love for Della outweighed his love for the watch. This contrasts very much with how the author states that both Della and Jim occasionally admire their prized possessions, alone and in silence; Della let her hair down for her and Jim to admire, but only after a couple seconds, she quickly put it up again, like it was fragile. These sacrifices were mandatory in order for them to afford a gift due to their obstacle of poverty. However, the gift giving itself technically wasn’t something they had to do. They were aware of how they would have to make a sacrifice (as Della was aware from the start that the money she had couldn’t afford anything nice enough), but still went through with it, thus proving how they cared more about each other more than their most prized possessions. In addition, at the end of the day, those prized possessions are just objects. But these objects are practically all they have, yet when push comes to shove, they will always choose each other.
In Thank you, Ma’am, Mrs. Jones teaches how to show respect and kindness to a young boy named Roger through her care, despite how he attempted to pickpocket her. Right after Roger attempts to however, Mrs. Jones acts quite harshly, as she grips his shirt and scolds him. “Now ain’t you ashamed of yourself?” Mrs. Jones says to Roger. Naturally, he shows that he’s frightened by responding in whispers or in a word or two; “I’m very sorry, lady, I’m sorry.” However, Mrs. Jones' true intentions of kindness are gradually revealed; shortly after, she offers to wash his face as well as prepare a meal. Once they arrive home, Roger is tempted several times to run out. But he chooses to stay, showing how either Mrs. Jones’ kindness is slowly catching up to him and/or how Roger truly is a good kid only in a hard situation. In fact, Roger, Della, and Jim all share the same situation/obstacle. Later, they enjoyed a meal together prepared by Mrs. Jones and had a conversation of how she was previously in a situation similar to Roger’s. After all this, Mrs. Jones never showed anger or frustration to Roger due to his intention to steal some of her things to afford the shoes he stated that he wanted. Instead, Mrs. Jones tells him how he, still a complete stranger to her, could’ve just asked her for money. This demonstrates how Mrs. Jones isn’t materialistic and only wants the best for Roger; she trusts him as she was aware of how he could’ve escaped and cares for him. Likewise, Della and Jim showed no concern for their possessions or money.
Even with obstacles of poverty, Della, Jim, and also Mrs. Jones’ kindness shined through; they all proved selflessness and how they are the opposite of materialistic, as Della and Jim sacrificed their most prized possessions and Mrs. Jones didn’t care that Roger tried to steal something from her, but only how this act was disrespectful, and suggested that Roger should’ve just asked her for money. Roger too, showed respect in the end as he chose not to take advantage of Mrs. Jones’ kindness and not to run away. In addition to Mrs. Jones’ kindness, she didn’t compare her and Roger’s difference in wealth at all. Instead, she showed humility from allowing a stranger in poverty into her home to giving them a meal. Della and Jim acted as if their poverty was practically nonexistent and were still determined to fulfill their goals anyway. “Eight dollars a week or a million dollars a year - how different are they?” O. Henry asks. Well, even with much wealth, in order for anything to be accomplished, one must have the mindset to do so, or that money is basically worthless. Sacrifice of time and effort to make a meal like Mrs. Jones, or to find a gift like Della still involved selflessness no matter what. Therefore, generosity and love were the only things that truly counted.