The author of this story was a man named William Sydney Porter, whose pen name was O. Henry. He wrote short stories about common people, focusing on the themes of struggles with life, love, and money. Most of his books were written in the 1900s.
The Gift of The Magi was written in 1905 in New York in a magazine called the New York Sunday World. It was part of “The Four Million”, a collection of books written by O. Henry.
The main theme of this story is the love between the main character and her husband. They sacrifice their most precious possessions to buy each other expensive gifts for Christmas. Even though the gifts were useless, they proved the love between the two protagonists.
The title of this story alludes to the Magi in the Bible who brought Jesus expensive presents, thus creating the tradition of giving wise presents on Christmas in the author's opinion.
The mood of the story, in the beginning, is gloomy. The repetition of “gray” in the image of the “gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard”, Della's crying, give us this impression, but later on in the story the mood changes to joyful and humorous.
The main characters in this story are a man named Jim and his wife, Della. Their characterization is indirect. We are told that Della has very little money, they lived in a house that looked poor, and her clothes were old. Della loved her husband. She sold her hair to buy Jim an expensive watch chain, thought about him, and hugged him when he came home from work. Jim loves Della back. He sold his watch to buy her expensive combs for her hair.
The conflict is that Della does not have enough money to buy Jim a gift for Christmas, and Jim doesn't have enough money to buy his wife a gift.
The point of view is that of omnipresent. The narrator knows every action, emotion, and thought that Della has.
The irony in this story is that Della sold her hair to buy Jim a watch-chain, while Jim sold his watch to buy combs for Della's hair.