Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Summary (The gift of the Magi – O. Henry)

Submitted by
Muktaparna Boruah (A6429713002)

Christmas has always been a festival of joy and sharing. It was on this day that the three wise men also known as the Magi perfected the art of gifting. For it is said that they were the first among men to have paid homage to Christ bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gift of the Magi is an agonizingly beautiful story which revolves around a young couple, newly married and in love. The story is set on Christmas Eve and the opening scene shows the girl Della fretting over not having enough money to gift her husband Mr. James Dillingham Young something which befits him. The couple had only two things in which they took much pride in – Della’s stunning long brown hair and James’ striking gold watch which had belonged to his father and grandfather. Della was so distressed about not having anything nice to gift James (she had only one dollar and eighty-seven cents saved up) that she took a hasty decision and hurried to a hair goods store and cut off and sold her hair. This earned her twenty dollars with which she bought the perfect platinum fob chain to go with James’ watch. Della was quite pleased with herself as she walked back home. As she waited by the door waiting for James to come, a myriad of thoughts swept through her mind. Would he still like the way she looked? Would he be pleased with what she had done? Jim, as Della called him, entered the house on time as usual. When he saw her, he wore such a strange expression on his face that Della was quite scared. He did not appear to be sad or angry and Della rushed towards him saying that her hair would grow out very fast and he needn’t worry. As Jim started to break off from his trance he took out a package for her and said that he would never love her less whether she had long hair or not but he was taken aback for a different reason altogether. As Della unwrapped her present, she momentarily became ecstatic but soon her ecstasy led to dismay. He had got her a beautiful bejeweled set of combs which she had yearned over so much but never expected to possess as they were quite expensive. But now these combs were useless as she had given away her hair in which the combs would have been adorned. But Della reassured Jim that her hair would grow long soon enough and she would wear the combs then. It was time to gift Jim the platinum chain and she eagerly showed it to him and asked for his gold watch so they could see how they looked together. But Jim fell back on the couch instead and told her to put the gifts away for a while as he had sold his watch to buy her the combs.
Thus ends the short story, a great example of cosmic irony with the clever twist at the end for which O. Henry is well known for. The writer concludes with the lines:
" 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. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi."

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