The Analytical Magi
William T. Long
Instructor Kurt Mueller
January 5, 2013
In O. Henry’s short story, “The Gift of the Magi”, a young couple must give all they’ve
got to give each other the best Christmas present possible. The wife (Della) needs a gift for her
husband(Jim). She has very little money, but a priced possession in her hair. She has her hair
cutoff to pay for a gift for her husband (a gold chain to match his priced gold watch). When Jim
gets home, she finds out he sold his watch to get combs for her beautiful hair(cited in Clugston,
2010). This creates a kind of paradox where both parties wanted to get a special gift for the other,
sparing their ...view middle of the document...
does the same by giving up his watch for her combs(cited in Clugston, 2010). In giving up these
items, the two showed that they were willing to give up one beloved item to make another loved
one happy. The value of objects theme is shown by how Della valued her hair, but valued giving
her husband a gift more. Therefore, she valued her husband happiness more than her item(Tai-
An, 2010). Jim does the same concerning his watch for Della’s combs.
The tone of this paper seems to be one of wisdom (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). The
narrator seems to be telling the story as if he has been here before or can relate it to part of his
world. In the passage “Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and to be burdened with a
family!”(cited in Clugston,2010, “The Gift of the Magi”, para. 24), the author shows he
understands the strain of responsibility that a young man can have with a family. The tone also
leans toward that of an older person, being a parent or grandparent, telling a story to a young
child (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008) . It seems that the story flows and reads like a moral story.
The story is worded in a way that a younger person can understand, learn a lesson, and/or a
value from an older more experienced person. This person may even have experienced this
The characters in the story are Jim, Della, and Madame Sofronie. Della is a warm,
caring, unselfish woman (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). Della lives as a housewife and her
world is Jim (Tai-An, 2010). She has put money back, pinched pennies at the store, and cut her
hair all for a gift for Jim. Jim is a devoted loving husband. He looks “thin and very serious”
(cited in Clugston, 2010, “The Gift of the Magi”, para 24)which shows he is under strain and
may be a hard worker. Jim shows he is loving by giving up his watch to give Della her combs.
Madame Sofronie is a hair person in this...