Books & Comics

#DailyBookQuote 24Dec13 : O Henry’s The Gift of the Magi

#DailyBookQuote : 24th December 2013

 O Henry

–          O Henry (September 11, 1862 – June 05, 1910)

–          O Henry’s The Gift of the Magi

One dollar and eight-seven cents is all the money Della has in the world to buy her beloved husband a Christmas present. She has nothing to sell except her only treasure, her long, beautiful brown hair. Set in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, this classic piece of American literature tells the story of a young couple and the sacrifices each must make to buy the other a gift. Jim and his wife, Della, are a couple living in a modest flat. They each have only one possession in which they take pride: Della’s beautiful long, flowing hair, almost to her knees and Jim’s shiny gold watch, which had belonged to his father and grandfather. On Christmas Eve, with only $1.87 in hand, and desperate to find a gift for Jim, Della sells her hair for $20, and eventually finds a platinum fob chain for Jim’s watch for $21. She found the perfect gift at last and runs home and begins to prepare dinner, with 87 cents left. When Jim comes home, he looks at Della with a strange expression. Della then admits to Jim that she sold her hair to buy him his present. Jim gives Della her present – an assortment of expensive Combs, useless now that her hair is short. Della then shows Jim the chain she bought for him, to which Jim says he sold his watch to get the money to buy her combs. Although Jim and Della are now left with gifts that neither one can use, they realize how far they are willing to go to show their love for each other, and how priceless their love really is. The story ends with the narrator comparing the pair’s mutually sacrificial gifts of love with those of the Biblical Magi. The Magi were wise men, who brought gifts to the new-born King of the Jews. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. This story is chronicle of two people in love who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their own. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest.

 

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