Summary of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi is one of the most celebrated short stories of O. Henry. It is a very interesting story that depicts a strange incident that takes place in the life of a poor young couple.


The story narrates an incident that happens in the life of a young and poor couple. Their income was only $20. They were poor but loved each other very much. They were sublime. Della had saved one dollar and eighty-seven cents by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man. The result of her savings of the whole year was only $ 1.87. The next day would be Christmas. Both of them wanted to give Christmas gifts to each other but they had not adequate amount to buy something for each other.

James Dillingham Young took a mighty proud for two possessions. Jim had a gold watch which he inherited from his father. The watch was very attractive which could envy even King Solomon. Della had beautiful hair reaching up to her knees, which could depreciate Queen Sheba’s jewels. Their married life was sweet and these possessions were the only things which could make them proud and happy.

Della had only $1.87 and she wanted to buy something for her Jim. An idea struck her mind and hurriedly she went down the stairs to the street and consulted Madame Sofronie. Della decided to get her hair cut and decided to sell it. She did it and got $20. Now she had $21.87. She hunted for a gift for her Jim and finally saw a fob chain which was simple and chaste in design but very valuable. She purchased it and quickly went to the house. She thought that the fob chain would definitely please Jim and he would be happy in any company.

Jim came home and knew the fact that Della had got her hair cut to buy a present for him. Then Jim drew a package from his overcoat and threw it upon the table. Della quickly opened it and, after seeing it, she had an ecstatic screen of joy and then she cried. She was longing for this present for a long time. But at present, it was of no use. Just to please her husband she hugged the set of combs to her bosom.

Then Della showed a gift which she had brought for Jim. She requested Jim to give her his golden watch as she wanted to see how it looked on it. Jim didn’t obey and tumbled down on the couch with cross hands back. He suggested to Della that they should put their Christmas gifts away and enfold the truth that, he had sold his gold watch to buy a gift for Della. What an irony!

O’ Henry surprised the readers at the end of the story. Though both the gifts were worthless, they were extremely precious because they suggested their ardent love for each other. Their selfless love wins the hearts of the readers. No doubt, it is a masterpiece by O’ Henry.

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