An Analysis of the Theme of The Gift of the Magi, a Short Story by O. Henry

The theme of The Gift of the Magil is that the best gifts are those that are meaningful and given out of love and sacrifice. In this story, Della’s most prized possession was her hair, while Jim’s was his gold pocket watch. Since they are poor, Della sells her hair to get Jim a fob for his pocket watch since he keeps it on a leather strap. Jim sells his watch to get Della the tortoise shell combs for her hair.

In the beginning, Della has only one dollar and eighty-seven cents to buy her husband, Jim a gift for Christmas. Since they are poor, Della tries extra hard to save a penny here and there and really wants to get Jim something really nice for Christmas. She doesn’t know what to do, or what to get him. This is where the theme begins to get intertwined into the story. Here Della leaves to sell her hair and get the gift for Jim. She is sacrificing her greatest possession to get the one she loves a meaningful gift for Christmas.

After finding the perfect watch keychain, Della returns home. She can’t wait for Jim to return to give him this present. When he comes to the flat, he is stunned to find Della. After all, it was him who gave her the hairbrushes. She ignores his reaction and gives him a watch chain. Jim is profoundly upset and collapses on the sofa in despair. Della learns why when Jim hands her the comb back. When they learn that both have sold their most prized belongings to give each other things for those things, the subject escalates. The reader knows now the best gifts are those given out of selflessness and love.

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