The Gift of the Magi - O Henry

American author William Sydney Porter, better known by his pen name O. Henry, was best known for his short stories, poetry, and non-fiction. "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Duplicity of Hargraves" are among his works.

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The main characters in "The Gift of the Magi" are Della and Jim Young, a young married couple with little money. Due to Jim's 30% pay reduction, the two must cut back on everything. 

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Della meticulously counts the money she has saved for months the day before Christmas. She is alarmed to find she has under two bucks, to purchase anything by any means. Della decides to find a way to get Jim the present he deserves after a long, hard cry.

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Jim and Della are both proud of two things they own. One is Jim's grandfather's gold watch, which he has had since childhood. The second is Della's shining, lustrous hair that falls to her knees.

She walks out of the apartment and into Madame Sofronie's hair goods shop, where she charges twenty dollars for her hair. She currently has $21.87 cents. Della is able to find Jim the ideal Christmas present with her new funds: a watch chain made of elegant platinum for his pocket watch. She spends $21 on it.

Della returns home excited by her present and attempts to style her now-short hair with a curling iron. She did what she had to do to get Jim a good present, despite her doubts that he will be pleased.

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After a short time, Jim wakes up and gives Della her present, making sense of that his response will check out when she opens it. Della opens it, cries with joy, and then immediately breaks down in tears.

Jim has given her the exquisite set of combs made of genuine tortoiseshell, which she has desired for a long time. The combs would have made the ideal present, but she no longer has long hair to wear them with.

Jim comforts Della as she cries. She hands Jim his present once she has recovered, holding out the watch chain. Jim grins, returning to the sofa. He explains that because he didn't have much money of his own, he sold his pocket watch to pay for Della's tortoiseshell combs.

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He suggests that they eat dinner and put away their presents. The narrator concludes the narrative by stating that Della and Jim, despite selling their most prized possessions, are the wisest of all those who give gifts.


He says, "they are the magi," comparing the young couple to the wise men in the Christmas story who brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

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