Summary of The Gift of the Magi
Della, the wife of James Dillingham (Jim) counts one dollar and eighty seven cents. This amount she has saved by living in a miserly manner, by bargaining with the grocer, the vegetable men and the butcher. She is disappointed with her savings because next day will be Christmas. She dropped down on the coach in despair and cried.
Their home is a poorly furnished flat which cost them 8 dollar a week. There were signs that Mr. Dillingham’s income had gone down. The letters of his name on the card attached to the letter box in the vestibule below had become blurred. The electric button had gone out of order. His income had come down from 30 dollar per week to 20 dollar. But still Della’s love for her husband was as great as ever.
Della could not understand how she could make a worthy present to her husband with only 1 dollar and 87 cents. She had planned a nice present for him. Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the pier glass. Her eyes shone and her face lost the colour. She pulled down her hair which fell to its full length.
Della had beautiful long rippling hair. Jim had gold watch which he inherited from his father. Della considered her brown rippling hair richer than all the jewels of the Queen of Sheba and Jim regarded his gold watch more valuable than the treasures of King Solomon, Della let fall her hair and it reached below her knee. She immediately made up her mind.
Della put on her brown jacket and brown hat. She rushed out of home and arrived at the shop of Mme Sofronie that sold hair goods. She quickly sold her hair for twenty dollars. Then for two hours she searched thoroughly the stores for a present. At last she came by platinum fob chain that was worthy of Jim’s gold watch. It cost her twenty one dollars.
Della was in an excited condition. Now her excitement gave way to reason. She took out her curling irons and curled her short hair. It was a difficult task to repair the damages made by generosity and love. . Within forty minutes, her head was curled with tiny curls. She was afraid that Jim would be annoyed and would say that she looked like a Coney Island chorus girl. –
In the evening, Jim returned to his flat. Della was waiting excited and nervous with the fob chain doubled in her hand. Jim looks thin. Della had sympathetic feelings for him. Jim’s eyes fell on Della and he stopped immovable. He kept staring at her with a peculiar expression on his face. Della was terrified. Della tried to comfort him by explaining that she had sold her hair to buy him a present. Her hair would grow soon. She had got nice present for him.
Jim looked about the room and asked stupidly if she had sold her hair. Della replied that she had sold it. She asked him to think that her hairs had worn away naturally. It was Christmas Eve. Their love is uncountable, Jim’s dazed state ends and took Della in his arms. For ten seconds they were locked in the embrace of love. They forgot the difference between 8 dollars a week and a million a year. Their love could not be counted in terms of money.
Jim brought out a package from his overcoat pocket. He said that he did not mind her hair cut. She would get the explanation of his dazed condition if she opened the package. Della opened the package quickly and excitedly. She was at first screamed in joy and then she broke into tears. The package contained a beautiful set of combs made of tortoise shell. For long she hankered after the combs which she found in the show case of a shop. But now her hairs which would adorn the combs had gone.
Della put the combs to her bosom and adored them. Della showed him the fob chain she had bought for Jim. She said how she searched every shop to buy it which would suit so excellently his gold watch. She asked for the gold watch. Jim sat down on the couch and asked Della to put away the Christmas presents. He had sold the gold watch to buy the Christmas present for her. So their presents were of no avail. Jim asked her to give him his chops and forget all about the presents.
The three wise men of the east (Magi) brought valuable gifts for Christ on his birthday and that initiated the custom of Christmas presents. They were wise and rich and they made gifts which had economic value. But Jim and Della were stupid to dispose of their richest possessions to buy Christmas presents for their dear ones. But they made the wisest gifts. In their gifts, there was true love. Love made them forget all practical and material considerations.