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Character Analysis in The Gift of the Magi

Jim: Jim is Della’s loving husband. Jim struggles to support himself and his wife on a meagre income in New York City. He is known for his punctuality, represented by his golden wristwatch, which he later sells in order to afford a Christmas present for Della.

Della: Della’s only “possession” is her long golden hair. She sells her hair in order to pay for a Christmas present for Jim.

Character Analysis Examples in The Gift of the Magi:

The Gift of the Magi

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"he always entered..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

This line contrasts with the previous sentence that says, “Jim was never late.” These two absolute statements of “never” and “always” show the practiced routine of the two lovers. They know each other perfectly and seem to be completely in tune with one another.

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"tripped by on rosy wings..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

The turn in drab, heavy narration to light and “rosy” tones is a metaphor for Della’s change in emotion after having cut her hair. Although the reader may think she feels some regret about the loss of her beautiful hair, her ability to radiate joy speaks to how much she truly loves Jim.

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"For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

O. Henry uses the preceding paragraphs to build tension between the two lovers and a bit of confusion. This line breaks the tension by explaining why Jim looked so distraught by the loss of Della’s hair. It isn’t because he loves her superficially; instead it's because he spent money on expensive combs that he figured she would want to use on her long, beautiful hair but no longer can.

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"Mrs. James Dillingham Young..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

O. Henry's description of Jim's calling card near the letter-box and the electric button is an adroit way of providing the reader with the full names of both main characters in his story. Jim's card also tends to characterize him as an ambitious man with refined tastes.

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