The Gift of the Magi

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The Gift of the Magi by Mind Map: The Gift of the Magi

1. Facts about O. Henry

1.1. Born September 11, 1862 as William Sydney Porter in North Carolina, where he spend his childhood. 2. Read avidly 3.Dropped out of school at 15 4. Worked many jobs ( On a Texas Ranch, in a druge store, as a bank clerk) to make money.

2. The conflict

2.1. External: The couples financial struggle

2.2. Internal: Person vs. Circumstances ( classical) The couple struggles against poverty

2.2.1. Person vs.Himself/ Herself ( psycological ) Delia struggles with the painful decision of letting go her only prized possession

3. Setting

3.1. The actiob takes place in New York City in a very modest apartment and in a hair shop down the street from the apartment. Although Porter does not mention New York by name, he does refer to Coney Island, the city`s most famous amusement park, located in the borough of Brooklyn

4. Theme and Moral

4.1. The Gift of the Magi is a classic example of irony in literature. Irony is a literary technique in which an expectation of what is supposed to occur differs greatly from the actual outcome. In this case, Jim and Della sacrifice their most treasured possessions so that the other can fully enjoy his or her gift. Jim sells his watch to buy Della's combs, expecting her to be able to use them. Della sells her hair to buy Jim a chain for his watch. Neither expects the other to have made that sacrifice.

5. Story

5.1. The story ends with a comparison of Jim and Della's gifts to the gifts that the Magi, or three wise men, gave to Baby Jesus in the manger in the biblical story of Christmas. The narrator concludes that Jim and Della are far wiser than the Magi because their gifts are gifts of love, and those who give out of love and self-sacrifice are truly wise because they know the value of self-giving love.

5.2. The irony here works both on a practical and on a deeper, more sentimental level. Both Della and Jim buy each other a gift that ultimately seems financially foolish. Being poor, they can't afford to waste money on things they can't use. However, what they get is something they don't expect: a more intangible gift that reminds them how much they love each other and are willing to sacrifice to make each other happy. The story's setting at Christmas time makes it a popular story for the holiday season. Its major theme is the difference between wisdom and foolishness, or having or not having, a sense of judgment and understanding.

5.2.1. Both Jim and Della behave impulsively, sacrificing their greatest treasures without thinking about the consequences and focusing instead on making one another happy. From an entirely practical perspective, this doesn't make much sense because they can't enjoy the gifts that are supposed to make them happy. Jim and Della are thinking about the present moment and the material possessions that give us pleasure.

5.2.1.1. What they foolishly don't realize, however, is that they've given each other a greater gift: their sacrificial love. The lesson they ultimately learn is that their love for each other is worth more than all of the material possessions money can buy. O. Henry makes a somewhat humorous though a meaningful comparison between the Magi in the Bible and Jim and Della at the end of the story: