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The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi


by O. Henry

Analysis: 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 in the first place? The magi, at least according to the Christian tradition. You might also have heard of the magi as the "three kings" (as in the famous Christmas carol, "We Three Kings of Orient Are") or the "three wise men." According to the Christian Bible, the magi were the trio of kings who traveled to Bethlehem from somewhere in the east (probably Persia) to deliver three presents to the baby Jesus.

According to the story, the magi were wise folks. The gifts the magi gave to Jesus must have been wise too (as the narrator of "The Gift of the Magi" suggests at the end of the story). These gifts must have been the smartest, best gifts anyone could have chosen. And according to the narrator, that makes the two characters in this story – Jim and Della – just like the magi: they gave each other the wisest gifts of all.

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