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The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi(Theme of Sacrifice and Value)

When the notion of the theme of sacrifice and value comes into the readers’ scope, it is inevitable for one to find the deep relation that this has in the story that O. Henry tries to relay to the audience. Sacrifice and value are highly prevalent in the story. They play a crucial role in explaining the extra length and sacrifices this young couple is willing to make for each other without selfish thought. Their willingness to sacrifice what they value makes this story so endearing to the readers, and as such, it suffices to maintain that sacrifice and value are an integral part of this story.

It is vital to understand that O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” is riveted with the notion of a young couple, Jim and his wife, Della. They are both lacking when it comes to material possessions and even more funds for the extra amusements. As the story begins, the author strongly emphasizes the poverty besieging this family. The vivid description lays it all bare from the absence of a mirror, a shabby coach, a virtually broken doorbell, and a house that they pay only eight dollars. Regardless of this depressing situation, the author quips further that Jim makes an effort to get back home on time, to meet the only thing that makes him happy in this depressing world, to be hugged by his loving wife. It is essential to note that the poverty that besets them does not appear to have any adverse ramifications on the cozy home daily life. The emotional value of caring for each other tremendously exceeds their lack of material possessions.

Besides, when the notion of inner value comes to mind, it is imperative to note that Della, Jim’s wife, finally finds a gold chain that would fit in Jim’s watch, which is essentially chaste and straightforward. Still, it possesses a value in the substance alone; she likens it to Jim, a man with inner value, even though his income is not substantial.

Also, when it comes to the description of both Della’s hair and the watch that Jim has, the author makes a comparison of them to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, which is an illusion that is aimed at describing how much those possessions that this couple had meant so much to Della and her husband, Jim. However, these possessions cannot, in essence, be compared to the abundance of jewels and treasures, which shows that value, in this case, is subjective.

Besides, it explains why the author postulates that “…there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch which had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair” (Henry, 2012). As such, the author contends that should the Queen of Sheba happen to be living nearby, Della would have intentionally let her long, beautiful hair hang outside her window to dwarf Her Majesty’s gifts, splendor, and jewels.

Also, if King Solomon was a janitor, and all his treasures were stacked high in the basement, Jim would pull out his watch and proudly show it every time King Solomon passed, to see the king stroke his beard with jealousy.

The value the characters put on what they believe is right is intriguing. In the story, the author says, “Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim” (Henry, 2012).

Furthermore, the riveting part is that this young couple is willing to give each other the thing they both value the most. The theme of value revolves around persons devoted to each other in a way that makes their relationship virtually untouchable from the adverse pressures of life that besiege them.

Nonetheless, the characters involved are willing and ready to give up what they value the most in their lives for those they deeply care for. This is seen in the character of Della, who frequently wants to make her husband happy. She is willing to let her hair be sold and use the money to purchase something Jim would deem worthwhile. Besides, her anxiety as she wonders over the best gift for her husband during Christmas shows that some people can give up what is most valuable to them for those they value the most (Bilal, 2012).

In conclusion, the fact that sacrifice takes center stage here is proof of love. The Gift of the Magi shows numerous instances whereby the couple makes solemn sacrifices for the sake of the other, all in the name of love. When Della cuts off her hair, she makes a sacrifice because it is precious to her and her husband. He confessed, “I l,ike to see your hair every morning in the sun. At work, I think about your hair” (Henry, 2012). Jim sacrifices the watch gifted to him by his father. It was a watch that had been part of this family for many generations, yet he sold it for his wife’s happiness. He sells it and buys his wife a comb she has always admired.


Bilal, H. A. (2012). Discourse analysis of the gift of the magi. Academic Research International2(1), 686-694.

Henry, O. (2012). The Gift of the Magi and other short stories. Courier Corporation.


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Compose an essay of 750 words in which you offer your interpretation of a literary element (such as character, theme, imagery, or symbolism) in one of the assigned short stories. Your instructor will give five stories for the class to read and discuss this week. Check the Week 4 Announcement for a list of the assigned stories. You must choose one of these stories to earn credit on the assignment.

The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi

Start by selecting one of the short stories assigned by your instructor. Brainstorm to identify the literary element you want to explore in the story. Then, develop a thesis that offers a specific interpretation of this element. If you have trouble forming an idea, contact your instructor, who will help you. Do not do any outside research at this point. Use APA formatting and citations.

Tips for the Essay

Open your introduction with an engaging opener, such as a question, quote from the story, or interesting idea. Then, connect to the short story and mention the title and the author. End your introduction with a thesis statement that interprets a literary element of the story.
The body paragraphs should support your thesis. Present specific aspects of the short story that help to illustrate your points. Remember to quote from the report and analyze clear lines supporting your argument. Body paragraphs typically have at least two short quotations each as supporting evidence.
Include a strong concluding paragraph that summarizes your main points and explains the significance of the thesis. Finish this paragraph with a solid and satisfying ending.

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