The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (Essay Example)

  • Category: Books, Literature,
  • Words: 385 Pages: 2
  • Published: 06 April 2021
  • Copied: 193

The Gift of the Magi is a short story written by O. Henry about the true nature of gift-giving. He envisioned a poor couple who are willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to prove their love to the other on Christmas. Even precious family heirlooms and beautiful long locks of hair are sold to prove the unconditional love between them. Therefore, are they wise or foolish? I believe that Della and Jim are foolish.

Jim and Della sold their most treasured possessions as evidence of their unconditional love. However, I think they are very foolish about this. If they truly loved each other, they wouldn’t have to prove it with material gifts. Jim states, “‘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’” (Henry 5). Jim tells Della face-to-face that no matter what, he will love her. Even if she gives her hair away or changes her appearance, it won’t matter to Jim. He also implies that she doesn’t have to get him a present to buy his love. 

Della and Jim live in a cheap apartment with trashy furniture. It is hinted multiple times that they are poor. Instead of an accessory for a watch or for hair, why couldn’t they use that precious money to have a lovely Christmas meal, or buy a new couch? According to the text, “There was nothing left to do but flop down on the shabby little couch… A furnished flat at eight dollars a week” (Henry 1). Della recalls a run-down couch and a tiny little flat that is very cheap. I feel like a better gift than combs or a watch band is to maybe upgrade your apartment. She obviously isn’t proud of her low-priced lifestyle. Why not use a little of the cash to refurbish your home?

The final reason Jim and Della are so foolish is that they can’t get their items back. The watch that was passed down for generations is sold for good, and Della’s hair will take a long time to grow back to what it was, no matter how fast it grows. O. Henry writes, “‘It’s sold, I tell you- sold and gone, too’” (Henry 4). They act before they think, which made them automatically sell their most cherished belongings. There were probably much more reasonable ways to gain the same amount of money without sacrificing a family heirloom or your lovely hair.

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