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The Gift of the Magi
by O. Henry
Della Timeline and Summary
It's Christmas Eve, and Della finds herself with just $1.87 to by her beloved Jim a Christmas present. She hurls herself on the couch and cries. Della collects herself, and looks out the window, pondering the situation. Apparently she has an idea, and turns to the pier-glass. She lets down her hair – her prize possession – and looks at it one last time. After putting her hair back in place and bundling up, Della leaves the flat and goes to Madame Sofronie's, where she sells her hair for $20. Della shops for two hours, and finally finds the perfect gift for Jim: a platinum chain for his watch. She buys it for $21. Happy with her find, Della goes back to the flat and attends to her short, decimated hair. She curls it – apparently she's going for the "truant schoolboy" look (20). Della prepares the coffee and gets the stove ready to cook the chops. At 7pm, with Della waiting by the door, Jim comes home. Della is confused by Jim's shocked reaction to her hair: she can't quite make out what he's feeling. After coming back to earth, he gives her a present and tells her it will all make sense when she opens it. Della tears open the present and finds in it a set of combs for her hair that she's long desired. She shrieks with delight, and then dissolves into hysteria. Jim comforts her. It's now time for Jim's present, which Della gives to him. Jim smiles and tells Della that he sold his watch to buy her the combs. We learn from the narrator that, apparently, Della is one of the magi.