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Analysis

Literary Devices in The Gift of the Magi

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

There's not a whole lot of imagery or metaphor in this story. That makes the few Bible allusions stand out all the more. There's the whole "magi" reference. The last paragraph compares Jim and Dell...

Setting

The narrator calls our attention almost immediately to the two most important details of the story's setting: it takes place on a Christmas Eve, and its two main characters live in a very unassumin...

Narrator Point of View

Technically, the story seems to be third person limited omniscient. It's told in the third-person, and only follows Della. We don't see what Jim is doing during the story, and once he does show up,...

Genre

The key feature of a parable is that it uses a situation, which feels very simple to make a more complex or general point, often a moral one. (Also, unlike a fable, a parable does this with people,...

Tone

The narrator of "Gift of the Magi" is not a character, but he's certainly not a neutral observer either. Rather, he comes across distinctively as a person, and one who's telling you a story, maybe...

Writing Style

The story is narrated as if someone were telling it to you aloud. How does O. Henry achieve this effect? Basically he breaks grammar rules. There are lots of sentences that aren't really sentences,...

What's Up With the Title?

"The Gift of the Magi" is about a young couple who sacrifice everything they have of value to give each other the best Christmas present. And who invented the practice of giving Christmas presents...

What's Up With the Ending?

O. Henry is known for his "twist endings," and the ending of "The Gift of the Magi" is probably the most famous of them all. At the end of the story Della cuts and sells her hair to buy Jim a chain...

Tough-o-Meter

"The Gift of the Magi" is a blissfully simple, short story. It's written as if an wise old man were telling you the story orally, and so it feels much more casual than your average piece of literar...

Plot Analysis

"One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all." (1)The story's opening sentences confront us right away with the problem: Della only has $1.87 to buy a Christmas present, and it's Christmas Eve....

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: The Quest

Della wants to buy Jim a suitably amazing Christmas gift, but doesn't have any money.We learn right away what Della's "quest" is: to find the perfect present for Jim. We also know the problem she f...

Three Act Plot Analysis

It's Christmas Eve. Della needs to buy Jim a suitably spectacular present, but only has $1.87. While she bursts into tears we learn the details of Della and Jim's situation. Once she's back to her...

Trivia

Where did the name "O. Henry" actually come from? In an interview with the New York Times, William Sydney Porter (the author who wrote under the pen name of O. Henry) gave two different explanation...

Steaminess Rating

Would you really expect there to be sex in a classic heart-warming Christmas story that has spawned countless children's TV specials? Nope.

Allusions

Queen of Sheba (9)King Solomon (9)The Magi (34, 45)
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