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“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry: The Moral of the Story

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The definition of love is ” a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person.” In “The Gift of the Magi,” the two main characters possess a love for each other that is so strong that they are willing to sacrifice their greatest treasures for each other, with no regrets. Also, they do not obsess over superficial things like appearances. Therefore, the moral of the story is that it is not the material things that matter, it is the love you have for another person, and the sacrifices you are willing to make for them. This moral will become evident after examining the following three events that took place in the story: after Della cut her hair, James’s love for her was not even minutely affected, both James and Della gave up their most prized possession, and Della saved every penny she could for a year so that she could buy James a special present for Christmas.

First of all, after Della cut her hair, James’s love for her was not even minutely affected. He loved her for who she was on the inside, and could not have cared less about the appearance of her hair. This point proven in the following quote spoken by James: “Don’t make any mistake about me. 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.” By not reacting negatively to Della’s drastic change in hairstyle, it was shown that James’s love for Della was much too strong to be impinged by something as trivial as a haircut.

Secondly, both James and Della willingly gave up their most prized possessions so that they could buy exquisite gifts for each other for Christmas. James sold his grandfathers’ priceless pocket watch so that he could get Della the combs she had been pining over, and Della sold her beautiful hair so that she could buy James a platinum chain for his golden pocket watch. This is shown in the fact that Della says, “Isn’t it dandy, James? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it. ‘Dell,’ said he…’I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.'” The fact that both Della and James gave up their most cherished belongings shows that they love each other enough to do so, and they don’t care about material things for themselves.

Lastly, Della saved every penny she could for one year so that she could purchase a Christmas present for James. Since she was saving all her money for the present, Della lacked the funds needed to obtain anything lavish for herself. This point was demonstrated in this next portion of the story. “One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied.” Della proved that she was willing to deprive herself of any luxuries so that she could do something nice for James. This relates back to the idea of relinquishing something for someone you love.

In conclusion, through investigating the above three events that took place in “The Gift of the Magi,” the moral of the story has been proven to be accurate. The moral of the story is that it is not the material things that matter, it is the love you have for another person and the sacrifices you are willing to make for them. This moral connects to real life because there are countless examples of situations where material possessions and appearances have had no effect on one’s love for another person. Celebrities are a perfect example. They have a seemingly infinite supply of money, and have the resources to acquire anything they could possibly ever want. Yet, the divorce rates among celebrities are higher than those for people in any other occupation.

Perhaps this is because they are, for the most part, unwilling to share themselves and make compromises for loved ones, although they are perfectly willing to donate money to charities and engage in other similar impersonal activities. On the other hand, people with fewer financial means have been able to successfully maintain relationships with those nearest and dearest to them because they are willing to give things up for each other. Basically, regardless of how privileged or deprived you are, your ability to share and love others should not be affected by materialistic things.

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