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gift magi

Draw a character sketch of Della in "The Gift of Magi" by O. Henry.


And here I have lamely related to the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house.  But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest.

O. Henry's narrator intrudes upon the ending of "The Gift of the Magi" to make the ironic observation that Della and Jim Dillingham Young were "foolish" and "unwise."  Then, the contrast between what they really are is stated in the next sentence:  "these two were the wisest."

Della, who subsides from the "first stage" of crying and feeling sorry for herself that she has no money, moves to the "second stage" of doing whatever she can to give a Christmas present to her husband, whom she loves with complete unselfishness.  For, she sacrifices her most treasured possession, her luxurious hair.

This young woman of O. Henry's classic story is the antithesis of the young women one reads about in the magazines on the rack at the grocery store checkout, or many of the young women from the reality shows.  How often is a remark such as "He knows he better buy me a diamond ring that is x carats," or "I told my parents I want a new car, not some old, used thing," etc.?  Della, who is unselfish, knows that real love has no connection to material or physical possessions. This "unwise" and "foolish" characteristic of Della is one that is more beautiful than even her dazzling hair.

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