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Course Hero. "The Gift of the Magi Study Guide." Course Hero. 3 Oct. 2017. Web. 14 Nov. 2018. <>.

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Course Hero. (2017, October 3). The Gift of the Magi Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from

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Course Hero. "The Gift of the Magi Study Guide." October 3, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2018.


Course Hero, "The Gift of the Magi Study Guide," October 3, 2017, accessed November 14, 2018,

The Gift of the Magi | Quotes


There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl.


Della Young is facing what seems like an insurmountable obstacle: how to buy her husband, Jim Young, a Christmas gift with the little money she has managed to save. She reacts to her situation by crying and getting all her angst out.


Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.


The narrator interjects O. Henry's philosophical point of view. Life has its ups (smiles) and downs (sobs). Sniffles are the balance between the two, showing life is neither all bright nor all despair.


The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week.


In the past Jim Young proudly used his middle name, Dillingham, to show his optimism and hopes for the future. He stopped using it as his financial situation worsened instead of improved in New York.


But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim."


Once Jim is home, he is known only by his first name, free of the pretense afforded by the grander version of his name.


Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are.


The narrator expresses a simple adage. No matter how well one tries to budget and save, things always cost more than one thinks they will.


Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him.


Della delights in the planning and anticipation of doing something nice for her husband. It fills her with pleasure, showing how much she loves him.


Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.


The narrator reveals Della's glorified perception of her husband. She considers Jim above average and deserving of a gift that reflects his qualities.


Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings.


The narrator adapts the idiom of rose-colored glasses to show how Della is cocooned in blissful ignorance as she shops for Jim's present. She anticipates something wondrous and is oblivious to future consequences.


It surely had been made for Jim and no one else.


The narrator reveals Della's thoughts when she finds a watch chain. It fits her notion of Jim's specialness.


When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason.


After Della found the perfect gift for Jim, she went home. She comes down to earth and, anxious about his reaction to her short hair, attends to the practical matter of fixing it up.


She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things.


Della is momentarily anxious when she hears Jim's footsteps on the stairs. She has lost her most prized possession, her long hair, and hopes her husband will still find her beautiful. This is not a one-time anxiety for her: she has a tendency to worry about everything and is slightly insecure as she realizes life is perilous, which may reflect O Henry's views of females.


I'm me without my hair, ain't I?

Della Young

Della asks Jim this when he first sees her with shorn hair. She wants reassurance he likes her despite her new appearance and despite the loss of her most-valued possession. Her long hair had made her feel comparable to the Queen of Sheba, but now she is just an ordinary person.


I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less.

Jim Young

After seeing Della's shorn head, Jim reassures his wife nothing she could do to her appearance could change his feelings for her. They are more than skin deep.


The uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house.


The narrator provides O. Henry's view that Della and Jim are in a sense foolish or at least immature for thinking they needed to give away their most important possessions to express their love for each other.


O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.


The narrator provides O. Henry's view that Della and Jim are as wise as the magi (the biblical wise men who bestowed gifts upon the newborn Jesus) because their gifts were from the heart.

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