Q:

What is the plot of "The Gift of the Magi"?

A:

Quick Answer

"The Gift of the Magi" is a Christmas story in which a couple sells what is dearest to them so they can buy each other presents, but they then find that the value of their gifts have been negated by their mutual sacrifices. The resolution says that because they gave their greatest treasures, their gifts were as valuable as the gifts the magi gave to Jesus.

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Full Answer

Della, the wife, has managed to save less than $2 for a present for her husband. To be able to buy him a shiny chain for his watch, she sells her beautiful brown hair. When her husband comes home, he is shocked to find her hair cut, as he just sold his gold watch to buy her jewel-encrusted tortoise shell combs for her beautiful long hair.

"The Gift of the Magi" is one of the most famous short stories by O. Henry, the pen name of William Sydney Porter. He specialized in stories of common people with clever twist endings. While serving a three-year prison sentence, he began writing and selling stories to magazines to support his young daughter. Upon his release, he wrote a short story each week for newspapers and magazines. Eventually, his stories filled several volumes, and he became one of America's most famous short-story writers. Since 1919, the O. Henry Awards have been annually presented to the best short stories of the year.

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