- Year Published: 1952.
- Pages: 40.
The Gift of the Magi Summary
The Gift of the Magi is probably one of the most widely adapted stories in the world. It provides important lessons and the twist ending makes the story interesting. During Christmas and other gift giving holidays, the story is used to show that the value of a gift is in the thought of the giver and not necessarily the utility of the gift.
Jim and Della are a young couple of modest means. They live together in an apartment and they have a deep love for each other. Christmas time came and as per tradition, each wanted to give the other a gift. Della had beauty long hair that reached all the way to her knees. She took great pride in the hair and Jim loved it too.
Jim, on the other hand, had a golden watch that had been handed down to him by his father. His father had also received the watch from his father and therefore the watch was a family heirloom. Over and above the hair, Della had $1.87 in cash.
On Christmas eve, she went to sell her hair to a salon owned by a lady known as Madam Safronie. The hair gave her a return of $20. As much as she was desperate to give her husband a present, she was also apprehensive that Jim may not find her attractive without the hair.
Once she sold the hair she added a dollar from her $1.87 and bought Jim a platinum pocket watch chain for Jim at $21. The intention was for Jim to use the chain for his golden watch. Jim, on the other hand, having no money took his golden watch and sold it. In the selling of the golden watch, there is a direct parallel with the gift the magi gave to Jesus at the manger since it was golden. Although the gold didn’t go to Della directly, it was used to get her a gift.
After selling the watch, Jim went and bought a variety of combs. These combs were to be presented as a gift to Della to enable her to properly take care of the hair she loved. Meanwhile, after Della bought the chain, she went back home and prepared pork chops for dinner. She sat at the table at the position near the door waiting for Jim. On this day, Jim was late and Della was still concerned whether he would like her new look.
When Jim got in the house, he was startled to see Della without her hair yet he wanted to surprise her with a variety of combs. Della explained that she had sold her hair so as to buy Jim a chain which she showed him. Jim on his part explained that he had sold his watch to buy Della the combs. Both of them now had gifts from each other but the gifts were useless for all functional purposes.
Despite the gifts being of little utility, Jim and Della got a more important gift: the gift of assurance of each other’s love. Just like the Magi got the assurance of the hope of the world through the birth of Christ. The narrator in this story ends it by making the comparison.
The Gift Of Magi Themes