ENG 125 – Introduction to Literature Instructor: Alessandra Cusimano
June 24, 2013
Heartwarming Theme of “The Gift of The Magi”
Most great stories have a list of ingredients that hook a reader and keep them wanting more. Some of those ingredients are conflict, climax, suspense , and strong characters. All of these things can be found in “The Gift of the Magi” along with a theme that will warm the heart of the most ornery person on earth. O. Henry paints a vibrant picture of love and sacrificing for another being stronger than your own selfish needs and wants, which is a theme that resonates with a lot of people. This story draws you in from the very start. “The Gift of the Magi” has everything that a great story is comprised of, a heartwarming theme with a plot that pulls you in and characters that you feel connected to and root for.
The main themes prevalent in this story are sacrifice and love which are both more precious than any material thing that one can possess. O. Henry gives us an open view of the young couple's lives by showing some of the struggles that they go through. We learn that “Jim and Della are a husband and wife living in a rented room in New York. They are quite poor and recently Jim has had his salary cut back to only $20 a week from the $30 a week he used to make. After rent and groceries, the couple hardly have any money left” (Morgan, 1999). We also learn that even though they do not have much, they each have one thing that they treasure more than anything in the world. For Della it was her hair and for Jim it was a pocket watch that had been passed down through generations.
The story opening confronts us with a major dilemma right away; Della only has $1.87 to buy a Christmas present for Jim, and it is already Christmas Eve. The narrator spells out Jim and Della’s financial situation and tells us that Della loves her husband more than anything else in the whole world and she is dead set on getting him the perfect Christmas present. As the plot thickens we are told about the couples prized possessions. O. Henry sets up an intriguing plot
Heartwarming Theme of “The Gift of The Magi” that you just have to let unfold be for your eyes. The plot draws you not only with an amazing theme but with eloquent word play, for example, the author writes “Had the queen of Sheba4 lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon5 been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy” (as cited in Clugston, 2010, section 5.3, para. 9). The authors' word choices help the reader to understand just how precious these possessions were to the couple.