MrMany individuals work
so hard for material success, that you perhaps should think there was a
relationship between abundance and delight. However, there are absolutely no
relations between abundance and delight. Once our material needs are contended,
wealth only has an inconsequential effect on the feeling of delight. Although, delight
does appear in a relationship between non-materialism and delight – while acquiring
delight and material goods doesn’t lead to happiness, giving them away does.
Hospitality is strongly associated with wellbeing. The feeling of wellbeing is
more than about feeling good about us by giving someone else something, but it
comes from an emotion of connection to others. This shows very well in the
short story The Gift of the Magi by
William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry.
Mrs. Della Young is a
dedicated young woman married to Mr. James Dillingham Young. Della believes, that she cannot live through
Christmas without giving her lovely husband James, better known as Jim, an exceptional
Christmas present. She has worked hard to earn enough money to buy him a decent
present, but as she was only making 20$ a week, she ended up with 1.87$ to buy
the Christmas present for Jim. A recent cut in the family income going from 30$
to 20$ a week, only makes it harder for Della to save enough money. Della
stands in the small apartment that they pay 8$ a week for and admires herself
in the mirror. She lets her long, beautiful and shiny hair hanging down her
shoulders. She stands for a moment and admires her hair while letting a tear
roll down her cheek. After a moment of self-admiration, she puts on her old
brown jacket and old brown hat, and walks down the street, stopping at a sign
saying “Mme Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” Della decides to enter the
store and gets her hair done. She now has as shorts hair as a boy. She now has
enough money to buy Jim a decent present – she chooses to buy him a platinum
fob chain, simple in design and of exquisite quality.
When Jim arrives,
Della cannot read his reaction. He doesn’t seem angry, disappointed or surprised;
he simply just stares at her. When his shock finally disappears, he takes her
in to his arms, and tells her, that if she has a look at what he has gotten her
for Christmas, she will understand his shock. He draws a package out of his
pocket and hands it to her, and she sees that his gift for her is a pair of
combs. Jim suggests that they put their lovely gifts away for a while, because
he sold his watch to buy Della the combs.
Here we have a
typical case of paradox. The assurance to find the perfect gift for each
other’s, leads the characters to make a sacrifice, which results in making the
gifts incompetent. The result is the opposite of what they intended. What makes
the short story sweet is that it only comes about because they acted on their attentions.
Jim and Stella seem
much better off before exchanging gifts, because the gifts are completely counterproductive.
The original custody, the watch and the hair, were much more valuable on the
own before. The original custodies were so much valuable because for example, Jim’s
watch was a family heirloom and had gotten it from is grandfather, and Della’s
hair seemed to have a lot of value for her, since she wished for combs in
present. And also the hair is a part of a person and it’s personality. The
Christmas presents were just bought in the store, and therefor didn’t have any
kind of history or meaning, and therefor they weren’t as valuable for the
characters. In results, since each person wanted to buy the other one a perfect
gift, they both failed colossally. But possessions are sacrificed. In exchange
they get new items, that doesn’t have any affectionate expense as an expression
of expertise of knowing the true others. They now understand, that love isn’t
something they have separately, it’s something they have together, and that’s
what values the most. So in the exchange of the gifts, the two of them, Jim and
Della, gets closer to each other, which gives the story a very happy ending.
The story is told in with a third-person narrator, that
follows Della. We don’t see what Jim is doing during the story, and when he
comes home at night and sees the hair for the first time, we don’t know what he
actually thinks about the hair, we only know what his reaction is from Della’s
eyes. The story is narrated as if someone is telling you the story out loud.
This happens when the author is breaking the grammar rules. There are a lot of
sentences, that aren’t really sentences or end quickly. For example the first
sentence “One dollar and eighty-seven
cents” – There are no verbs or action in the sentence, only a description
about money, we don’t really get any information about the money, we don’t know
what they mean. Not until the next sentence “that was all”. This kind of writing, keeps the reader hanging on,
wanting to hear and read more. When the sentences are to long in stories, the
story quickly gets uninteresting and the reader can’t follow.
The short story was
published on Dec 10, year 1905, which also immediately gives the story a
special vibe and effect when it comes to the language.
As we know, the short story is about a couple that
sacrificed everything with actual meaning to give each other the best Christmas
present. This is a proper Christmas story, and can therefor relate to
Christianity. The title of the short story can relate to the Christmas carol
“We Three Kings of Orient Are” or the story in the Bible, where three men
traveled to Bethlehem to deliver three present to baby Jesus.
Every short story should include the “fundamental list of
ingredients” which includes conflict, complication, climax, suspense,
denouement and conclusion. This short story includes most of the ingredients.
Della selling her hair is the result of the conflict. A
conflict is the moment in a story when the problem appears. In The Gift of the Magi the point of
conflict is when Della sells her hair, because the money she gets for the hair
is money for Jims present.
The complication in the story is when Jim is shocked by
Della’s hair and can’t even speak. When Jim arrives, he doesn’t seem very happy
about the hair, he just stares at her and doesn’t show any sign of emotion or
reaction. This brings us further to the suspense. Because we want to know what
he’s actually feeling, and how he’s going to react to Della’s present for him.
When he then shows Della the gift he got for her, and which also is the
explanation for his reaction, the climax appears. We now understand; that he
isn’t mad about her hair, and assures her that he will love her no matter how
In the narrators final paragraph, the narrator tells us that
it doesn’t matter that Jim and Della’s presents turned out to be useless,
because the are the wisest givers of all – which also is the conclusion of the