The to each other for Christmas. The value in
The Gift of Magi Companion Book On a typical Christmas morning, the smell of sugar cookies wafts through the air, and bursts of excitement surge through each and every person as they rush down to get under the Christmas tree, excited to open their gifts. Yet in the little town where the “The Gift of Magi” by O. Henry takes place, a young couple, Della and Jim, struggle to find something to give to each other for Christmas. The value in a gift is not represented by how expensive it is, but rather through the amount of time and effort spent on the gift. The inner worth found within the present is worth more than the external value. Throughout the story, money, their prized possessions, and the pleasure and pain of giving let them realize that their love for each other is the most valuable.Happiness vs. Money: Money may be a key factor to living a happy life, but it is not happiness itself. From the beginning of the story, O. Henry portrays Della as a woman who is crying over a dollar. The author lets the reader know that money plays an important role by having the story introduced as “ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-SEVEN CENTS” (O. Henry, pg. 1).Instead of feeling warmth from their cozy house and anticipating Jim to come home for Christmas, Della lies on the bed in their cold and empty apartment with no Christmas tree or presents, trying to figure out what she can do with the one dollar and eighty-seven cents she has. Della is concerned not because of how poor she is, but because she can not give Jim the Christmas gift he deserves. On pg. 3, the narrator states, “Now, when he Jim was being paid only $20 a week, the name James Dillingham Young seemed too long and important.” (O. Henry, pg. 3) People are often judged based on their wealth and economic status. Della and Jim’s life consists of very little external worth and even less after Jim starts getting paid only $20. Della and Jim, as they call one another, do not need fancy things to be happy. Though their actual names are Mr. James Dillingham Young and Mrs. James Dillingham Young, they simply call each other “Jim” and “Della”. In a sense, their long names represent their external worth and what other people call and see them as. Their short and simple names showcase their true personality and inner worth. Della and Jim are names that they reserve just for each other. Near the end of the story, Jim tells Della “Eight dollars a week or a million dollars a year, how different are they?” (O.Henry, pg. 3) Regardless of how poor Della and Jim are, happiness is still found whenever they see each other. The most important thing in life is to feel happy and loved, not to be rich and famous. In society, people do not get educated just to find a job and earn millions of dollars; they go to school so later in life they can have more opportunities and choose the path where they find happiness.Prized Possessions:The value of the a prized possession does not come from how much externally it’s worth, but from the value it holds within. For people living in poverty, their most valuable item might be money, but for Della and Jim, their prized possessions are objects that can never be obtained by wealth. For Jim, it is his gold watch, and for Della, it is her hair. They are not worth a lot of money, but they are the only items worth enough to buy a gift for each other.The hair and watch are very subjective, as on pg. 2, it states, “If the queen had lived in the rooms near theirs, Della would have washed and dried her hair where the queen could see it. If a king had lived in the same house, with all his riches, Jim would have looked at his watch every time they met.” (O. Henry pg. 2) This quote lets the reader know that Della has no interest in fancy gifts or money. On the other hand, her hair is what she values the most. It represents her youth and beauty; no jewels or gifts will ever be able surpass that. This is the same for Jim’s watch that was passed down from his father. Although his riches would be worth more externally, Jim’s watch contains love from his family that was passed down from generations. Della soon comes to a realization that the only way for Jim to have a present worthy of him is if she sells her hair. Della demonstrates her love for Jim by sacrificing her own external beauty without a second thought. After two hours, she finally decides on a simple platinum chain for Jim’s watch, comparing the watch’s lack of ornamentation and value to Jim’s personality. “It was a gold watch chain, very simply made.”(O.Henry, pg. 3) The chain substance is more important to Della, just as Jim’s inner worth means more than his salary. When finding a true friend or lover, rather than judging them based on their wealth or popularity, understand their personality and decide if they are kind to you. A true friend will not care if you are not popular or pretty. Knowing a person for a long period of time allows their true personality to show through. Instead of choosing a cheap but expensive looking chain, Della chooses a simple gold chain that was holds a lot more inner worth because of the pure gold it is made out of. Pleasure and Pain of Giving: Everyone possesses things they value, however the value becomes more earnest when those possessions are sacrificed for a greater cause. Sacrificing a prized possession is not easy, and it often causes both the pleasure of giving and the pain of losing a valuable item. When Della comes home, she is content and anticipates Jim to come home. However, that excitement gradually starts to wash away as she looks into the mirror. “Della begins to think more reasonably. She started to cover the sad marks of what she had done.” (O.Henry, pg 4) The sad marks symbolize her loss of external beauty and confidence found within. In school, kids get bullied because of their looks and body weight. If they are always classified as ugly and fat, they start to lose confidence in themselves and go through depression. For a minute, Della worries that Jim will no longer love her because of how her external looks have changed. When Jim comes home for dinner, he freezes, staring at Della’s hair with a solid face. She immediately jumps to the conclusion that Jim doesn’t love her anymore. However, Jim reassures Della that no haircut could make him love her any less, but he was shocked because of the present he bought for her. Della then unwraps her gift to find the beautiful combs that she had always dreamed of having. She shrieks and says “My hair grows so fast Jim.”(O. Henry, pg 5) The combs are beautiful and expensive on the outside but with Della’s hair gone, their external value is diminished. As Della takes out the gold chain, Jim understands everything. He tells Della “let’s put our Christmas gifts away and keep them a while. I sold the watch to get the money to buy the combs.”(O. Henry, pg. 6) Even though the combs and the gold chain are useless now, they contain love. The actually present is not the most important; the sacrifice put into those gifts is worth the most. Christmas is not about receiving a super expensive present, but about gathering around as a family and giving each other a gift that is made with sacrifice and love.Powerful Quotes: O. Henry’s humor and dramatic irony gives his writing style its distinctive flavor. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of quotes that are meaningful and hidden throughout the short story. One of the first quotes introduced is “Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.” This quote portrays the life that Della and Jim lives in. Della is constantly crying, but when she thinks of Jim, she immediately wipes away the tears and smiles. Life consists of so much, but for the most part, it is filled with sadness, grief, and most importantly, happiness. Della and Jim might have times where they feel sad or depressed, but without sadness, happiness can not be found. Sadness and anger leaves deep scars and impacts on people’s lives, but once they look past that and find happiness, the sadness and anger slowly melts away.After Della decided to cut her hair, O’Henry tells the reader that “Love and largehearted giving, when added together can leave deep marks. It is never easy to cover these marks, dear friends never easy.” For Della and Jim, this quote is saying that to show your love for one another, it causes sacrifice and effort. There is conflict between whether one would choose to sacrifice their gift or not. After Della and Jim gives away what is most precious to them, they could not help but feel a tinge a sadness. Nonetheless, at the end of the day they still smile and erase these sad marks. They realize that their love for each other is worth so much more than their prized possessions. The last quote found within the story is the most meaningful: “Of all who give gifts, they were the most wise. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the most wise. Everywhere they are the wise ones. They are the magi.” This last paragraph ending the story suggests that the true spirit of giving involves love and generosity. The intent counts much more than the external value of the gift. Which is why, the narrator says that Della and Jim are the wisest gift givers. Although their presents are useless, they have demonstrated their great love for one another. They have given each other the greatest affirmation they could of each other’s love.Conclusion:”The Gift of the Magi” is a short story describing a young couple, Della and Jim, who embody the twin spirits of love and sacrifice. Even though there is barely any dialogue, O. Henry still lets the reader have a clear picture of the story by having it written in dramatic irony. Throughout the story, money and their prized possessions play an important role. Powerful quotes found in the story show that although sacrificing a prized possession is painful, the joy of seeing a loved one open a gift is worth so much more. The true meaning of Christmas is not about receiving gifts, but about giving. A gift given out of love will shine and that is what Christmas is all about.