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The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi


by O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi Theme of Sacrifice

The two main characters in "Gift of the Magi" are a husband and wife who give up their most precious possessions to be able to afford gifts for each other on Christmas Eve. The story seems to be all about sacrifice. We watch Della go through the process of deciding to make the sacrifice and going through with it, only to discover that her husband has made the same sacrifice. The story's narrator assures us that in their willingness to give up all they have, they have proven themselves the wisest of all gift-givers. It might remain unclear, though, exactly what their sacrifice has accomplished, or how it has affected them.

Questions About Sacrifice

  1. Does Della perceive the loss of her hair as a sacrifice? Is she affected by it? How can you tell?
  2. Does it seem to you as if either Della or Jim makes a greater sacrifice, or are their sacrifices equivalent? Why?
  3. Do Della and Jim make a wise decision in sacrificing their most precious possessions? Do you agree with the narrator's conclusion?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Della does not perceive the loss of her hair as a sacrifice.

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