ACTIVATOR If you could save just one item from a disaster—a fire, a flood, an earthquake—what would it be? In the form of a paragraph, describe your most cherished possession, and explain why you treasure it. Was it a gift? If so, how does that make it especially important to you?
MAKING PREDICTIONS We read because we are curious. A writer sets up an intriguing situation, and we read on because we want to know what happens. As we read, we make guesses, or predictions, about what will happen.
MAKING PREDICTIONS, CONT. Predictions Our understanding of plot. Our own life experiences. Clues within the text.
ANNOTATING TO MAKE PREDICTIONS Remember that annotating means that you add notes to a text giving explanation or comment. As you read “The Gift of the Magi,” keep a record of your predictions as a way of annotating the text. To get started, read the first paragraph and then ask yourself, “What will happen next?” Write down the paragraph and page number, and then write your answer. Make at least five predictions as you read the short story.
IRONY AND SURPRISE ENDING “The Gift of the Magi” incorporates situational irony. Della sold her hair to buy Jim a chain for his watch. Jim sold his watch to buy Della combs for her hair. A surprise ending is used to bring out this situational irony. Surprise ending : the reader doesn’t expect the ending, but it is still both logical and believable. Irony and surprise endings are often used in order to help develop the theme of a text.
SUMMARIZER: TICKET OUT THE DOOR Complete the “Literary Analysis: Irony” on page 267 of the textbook. Complete 1a, 1b, 2a, and 2b. Note: Question 1b is asking you about the theme, using the synonym “message” in its place.
PLOT OVERVIEW Setting : Place-New York City in the Youngs’ shabby apartment; Time-1905, Christmas Eve. Protagonists : Della and Jim Dillingham Young External Conflict : Man vs. Society-Jim and Della struggle financially Internal Conflict : Della has a struggle within herself about selling her hair to buy Jim a gift. Point of View : Third Person Limited-centers on Della and observes what she sees, hears, feels, or does. Climax : Jim reveals that he bought Della The Combs for Christmas.
CHARACTERS Both Jim and Della are round and dynamic. We know they are poor in money, but rich in love. We know that they are willing to make great sacrifices for each other. Both of them change at the story’s conclusion because they become wiser, learning that the wisest gifts are those that can’t be bought (the theme of the story).
ALLUSION They brought gifts of frankincense and myrrh (substances prized for their fragrance) as well as gold to the infant Jesus. Traditionally, the Magi’s gifts are regarded as the first Christmas presents. The Magi referred to in the title and story’s ending are the three “wise men” from the Bible.
ALLUSIONS AND HYPERBOLES There are references to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon from the Bible. The narrator exaggerates how precious Della’s hair is by stating that the Queen of Sheba would be jealous of Della’s hair. He also exaggerates how valuable Jim’s watch is by stating that King Solomon would be jealous of Jim’s watch. Both of these hyperboles serve to point out how special Della’s hair and Jim’s watch are to them.
IMAGERY “So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her.” This description tells readers what Della’s hair looks like, and also conveys Della’s feelings toward her hair. She prizes her hair and knows it is beautiful. Note that the first sentence is a simile, and the second is a metaphor.
PERSONIFICATION When Jim gives Della The Combs, the narrator explains that “her heart had simply craved and yearned over them.” Her heart is being personified, as if it can crave and yearn for something.
MOOD The mood of the story is very suspenseful. Suspense : excitement or tension that readers feel as they become involved in a story. Suspense builds particularly when Jim arrives and Della can’t read his expression. Was it one of anger? Or Surprise? What will Jim say and do next?
ALLITERATION Alliteration : the repetition of consonant sounds in words that are close to one another, typically occurs at the beginning of words. Examples: The narrator says that "Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles.” The narrator describes Della as speaking with "sudden serious sweetness.“ In both examples, the “s” consonant sound is repeated at the beginning of words. Alliteration is typically used to provide emphasis, therefore drawing the reader’s attention to something important.
SYMBOLISM The number 3 is used as a symbol throughout the story. Write 3 of the following examples: 3 characters: Della, Jim, and Madame Sofronie. Della counts her money 3 times. The Queen of Sheba gave 3 types of gifts to King Solomon: spices, gold, and jewels. The word “gray” is used 3 times to describe the setting. Not “a haircut or a shave or a shampoo” could make Jim like Della less—3 things. The two examples of alliteration repeat the “s” sound 3 times. The were 3 magi from 3 different places, who brought 3 different gifts. Ultimately, the number 3 ties back to the 3 magi, who represent the wisdom of Jim and Della’s love for one another.
TONE AND DICTION The tone of this story is very wise and caring. Wise because the narrator seems to possess a great deal of knowledge about the world. Caring because the narrator conveys how fond he is of Della and Jim. Often in stories, especially “The Gift of the Magi,” the diction has a great impact on the tone and meaning of the text. Diction : style of speaking or writing determined by the choice of words by a speaker or a writer.