The main characters in "The Gift of the Magi" are Mr. James Dillingham Young, known as Jim, and his wife Della. The short story is one of O. Henry's most beloved and concerns an impoverished couple that each sacrifices their most cherished possession to purchase a holiday gift for the other, according to History.com.Continue Reading
O. Henry is the pen name of William Sydney Porter, a prolific short story writer. Born in 1862, Porter was married and had one daughter. In 1896, he was indicted for embezzling funds from a Texas bank and fled, first to New Orleans and then to Honduras, to avoid imprisonment. However, upon learning his wife was ill, he returned to Texas. After she died, he served three years for the Texas crime in an Ohio prison.
In prison, Porter's stories provided income to support his daughter. These stories, set in Texas and Central America, became popular and were published as a collection in 1904. Once released from prison, Porter moved to New York City, where he wrote stories of ordinary, poor and middle-class people, set in the city, including this one, published in a collection entitled, "The Four Million," in 1906.
While Porter enjoyed enormous popularity and published nearly 300 short stories, his life was difficult. He struggled with alcoholism and financial problems until he died at age 47.Learn more about Classics