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The Gift of the Magi

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.