The Gift of the Magi.
The Gift of the Magi & other stories
Exploring specific themes: Sacrifice & Wisdom

Many teachers in the USA feel that sacrifice, or giving up something for someone else, is the main theme in The Gift of the Magi.

Both Della and Jim make sacrifices so they can buy Christmas gifts for each other.

Who made the greatest sacrifice, Della, by selling her hair or Jim, by selling his watch?


Write a short paragraph of your own thoughts on this matter.

You can use this paragraph to help you in classroom discussion or debate.


At the end of the story, O.Henry seems to be saying two different things. Read below from page 6 in The Gift of the Magi.

And here I have told you the story of two children who were not wise. Each sold the most valuable thing he owned in order to buy a gift for the other. But let me speak a last word to the wise of these days: Of all who give gifts, these two were the most wise.

Who are the two children?

Why does O' Henry refer to them as "children"?

How were they unwise?

How were they wise?

Themes & proverbs
Usually, an authors theme can be stated in terms that resemble familiar sayings or proverbs.

Look at these English sayings. Are there similar sayings in your language. If not, can you translate them easily into your language?

Love is the greatest gift of all.

Money can't buy you love.

A gift must come from the heart.

Beauty comes from within.

Which of the four sayings best describes the main theme of The Gift of the Magi?

••• contents ••• Title Page ••• synopsis ••• pre-story ••• in-story ••• exercises ••• follow-up •••