Gifts of sacrifice. An essay on "The Gift of The Magi" By O. Henry

Submitted By lindsayregan13
Words: 1156
Pages: 5

Lindsay Patnaude
English 102
1/26/15
Word count: 1,144

Gifts of Sacrifice All people, at some point, have thought about marriage and the concept of true love. When one is young, they think that true love will come easily and without sacrifice. O. Henry paints the picture of a love story with simple sacrifices in his story “The Gift of The Magi” (Henry 164). O. Henry's short story follows Della and Jim, a couple living together in a busy city. As the story progresses the reader comes to learn about Della and Jim’s most prized possessions. Jim owns a fine gold watch and Della has hair that reaches down to the bottom of her knee. Della, at the start of the story, has one dollar and eighty seven cents, she knows that Christmas is approaching fast and she needs to purchase Jim a Christmas present. Della had been planning out what to buy for him, a beautiful golden chain to hang from Jim’s prized watch, but she only had a small amount of money and knew it would not be enough. Coming to a conclusion, Della hurried to the hair salon which, at the time, purchased hair. She let down her hair for one last time and asked how much she would get for it; the woman said she would give Della twenty dollars for her hair. She quickly had it cut and hurried to the store where she knew that the chain was for sale. As she arrived home she added up how much she had spent and had eighty seven cents left. When Jim arrived home she hurried to greet her husband; her new haircut took him by surprise. As he asked where her hair had gone, he pulled out a present and gave it to her. She opened it to find a set of expensive combs. Then she revealed the chain for her
Patnaude 2 husband’s watch only for him to laugh and explain that he had sold his watch to purchase the combs for her (Henry 164-168). O. Henry’s short story shows that a gift given with sacrifice can mean more than a gift given without thought, when you love someone you are willing to give even your most prized possession up for their happiness, and even when times get tough love remains strong. In today’s world, Christmas is advertised as a time when one is to purchase the most expensive and newest type of technology. Most of the time, these gifts are given without the consideration of the other person enjoying it. So when Jim and Della willingly think of the other’s happiness when they dream of them receiving it, most likely this makes giving up these possessions easier. O. Henry vividly describes for the reader Della’s hair, stating, “Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached just below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her” (165). The tone O. Henry uses to describe Della’s hair gives the reader insight that her hair is magnificent and envied by most women at the time. Henry also gives the reader a bit of detail about Jim’s watch by saying, “Had King Solomon 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 his beard from envy.” (165) With comparison, O. Henry can show the reader how valuable and great Jim’s watch is by putting it beside King Solomon’s treasures. O. Henry uses Jim’s watch and Della’s hair as symbols for love. This gives the reader insight to how one will act when in love; they will give anything, even their most important belongings for another’s enjoyment. Patnaude 3 Later in the story we read about when Jim arrives home to see his Della with her new haircut, O. Henry gives the story some suspense by having Jim become surprised by Della’s hair. The look on Jim’s face is described as, “an expression that she (Della) could not read and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for” (167). Della becomes worried by the expression on Jim’s face and begins to explain herself saying, “ “Jim…