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The Gift of the Magi

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Lindsay B.

on 27 March 2013

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Transcript of The Gift of the Magi

Foreshadowing Figurative Language Conflict Point of View Irony Characterization Tone Plot Theme Setting "The Gift of the Magi" is a short story that focuses on a couple, Jim and Della Dillingham, living in New York in the early 1900's. It's Christmas Eve, and money is very tight in this small family. Even though the story is told by O. Henry, we peer more into Della's adventures. The Gift of the Magi takes place in the early 1900's, somewhere in New York on Christmas Eve. During this time period, it is evident that money is hard to come by for small families. This setting is important because the story really revolves around not having enough, and being able to give up valued possessions for the benefit of others. Throughout the story, O. Henry often steps away and makes a wise remark, like this situation is something he's seen before. This leads me to believe that O. Henry is wise, almost in a sarcastic way, towards his story, the audience and the problems that occur. " 'You say your hair is gone?' he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
'You needn't look for it,' said Della. 'It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you...'
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table... For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window..." (Henry 5-6) Della Dillingham: O. Henry describes Della as a young woman, with shiny, knee length hair. Throughout the story, we learn of her kindness and love towards her husband Jim. We learn this through her actions, like when she sold her hair to buy him a nice Christmas gift. The quote below exemplifies direct characterization. "The Gift of the Magi" is in a third person limited point of view. The author is the one telling us about the characters and the events of the plot, but we really only know whats going on with the character Della Dillingham. Not much is said about her husband in the story, even when he makes his appearance in the last few paragraphs. Throughout the story, we have a better insight of Della and her emotions. The author might have chosen this point of view because it allows the reader to understand the events of the plot as an outsider. In "The Gift of the Magi," the end is foreshadowed very early on. In order to get extra cash to buy her husband Jim a chain for his wristwatch, Della sells one of her favorite possessions: her long, brown hair. We find out at the end that Jim sells one of his favorite possessions, his wristwatch, to buy Della a comb set. Della's actions foreshadowed Jim's actions. Below are examples of figurative language used by author O. Henry. One of the biggest conflicts in "The Gift of the Magi" is the conflict of not having enough money for nicer things. This is especially troubling because it is Christmas Eve, and both Della and Jim wish to buy one another something wonderful. This is a man against society conflict. "The Gift
of the Magi" story by O. Henry
project by Lindsay Baker "One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas" (Henry 1). In "The Gift of the Magi," there is a lot of situational irony between the two characters. In the story, Della sells her hair in order to buy her husband Jim a good Christmas present. She ends up buying him a chain for his wrist watch. What we find later in the story is that in order to buy Della a good Christmas present, Jim has sold his watch. He buys her combs for the hair he thought she still had. "Her eyes were shining brilliantly...Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length... So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her" (Henry 3). Jim Dillingham: Jim is described as a young man, worn out by the world around him. We also learn of Jim's kindness and love for his wife through his gestures and his kind words. The quote about Jim exemplifies direct characterization. "He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was with out gloves" (Henry 4-5) "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 honour of being owned by Jim" (Henry 2). This quote from the story shows us how the author is able to inform us about Della's struggle in the story. " 'Will you buy my hair?' asked Della.
'I buy hair,' said Madame. 'Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it.'
Down rippled the brown cascade.
'Twenty dollars,' said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
'Give it to me quick,' said Della" (Henry 3). "So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters" (Henry 3). [Simile] "Jim stepped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail" (Henry 5). [Simile] "Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy" (Henry 4) [Simile] "Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings" (Henry 3). [Metaphor] "And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, 'Oh, oh!' " (Henry 6). [Simile] "Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas. There was clearly nothing left to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it" (Henry 1). Another conflict found in the story is the conflict Della has with herself after she cuts her hair. She's worried her husband will no longer love her without her long hair. This is an example of man against man conflict. "She had a habit of saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: 'Please, God, make him think I am still pretty.' " (Henry 4). "And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house" (Henry 7). "Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating" (Henry 1). This quote suggests that Henry knows a lot about life. This quote shows us that O. Henry has a sarcastic side by describing his story as "uneventful." There are many themes in "The Gift of the Magi." Giving is the greatest gift.
Love requires sacrifice.
- In order to buy each other a nice gift, both Della and Jim had to give up something that meant a lot to them.
It's the thought that counts.
- Even though both of them couldn't really use the gifts they received, each was touched by the thought and expense. We find that she desperately wants to buy Jim a great Christmas present, but has less than two dollars to spend. She decides to cut off her long, brown locks in order to pay for an extravagant gift, which ends up being a wristwatch chain for Jim's expensive watch. When Jim comes home later that night, Della isn't sure of his reaction to her short hair. It is later revealed that Jim bought Della a set of combs for her hair, which was now gone. To pay for the combs, Jim sold his watch. Each person was willing to give up one of their most valuable possessions in order to buy the other something for a special occasion. Sources http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-B7L9GX-3OJo/ULGfAxz18oI/AAAAAAAABuU/ZkBBPalfWH0/s1600/christmas-stories-the-gift-of-the-magi-2+tlc.jpg (5) http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Ucmj2UupKT4/TP8s25LQPXI/AAAAAAAAA8U/5axV84MnbYA/s1600/Magi-Lynch+interior.jpg (4) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/William_Sydney_Porter_by_doubleday.jpg (3) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3a/Mulberry_Street_NYC_c1900_LOC_3g04637u.jpg (2) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5f/The_Gift_of_the_Magi.jpg (1) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
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