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“The Gift of the Magi” By O. Henry.

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1 “The Gift of the Magi” By O. Henry

2 O. Henry ( ) Born William Sydney Porter in 1862 in North Carolina His father was a doctor and his mother was a college graduate with an artistic temperament. She died when William was three years old. He grew up on a farm with his father and aunt. His aunt “Miss Lina” was his greatest influence as she encouraged him to read, draw, and write. Yearning for the city life, he moved to Austin, Texas when he was 18. He worked as a pharmacist, bank teller, and journalist, while continuing to write short stories.

3 Spent three years in prison for embezzlement
Spent three years in prison for embezzlement. *The general public did not know of his imprisonment. He wrote under the pseudonym O. Henry. Moved to New York City, which became an inspiration for many of his stories. During this time, Porter became a well known and respected short story author. Died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1910. His works are known for warm characterization and clever twist endings.

4 Allusion What is an allusion in literature?
Allusion – a reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art.

5 Allusion to the Magi The Magi were the so-called three wise men from the east who traveled to Bethlehem, following a bright star, to present gifts to the infant Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 2, Verse 11) says:  "And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his  mother, and falling down they adored him: and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts–gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

6 Allusion to the Magi Continued
These offerings, though valuable, were not as important as the recognition, respect, and love they gave the Christ child. Frankincense was used as a treatment for illness and as an fragrant additive to incense. Myrrh was also added to incense, as well as perfume, and found additional use as an ointment. The three wise men have been identified in western tradition as Balthasar, king of Arabia; Melchior, king of Persia; and Gaspar, king of India.  

7 Motif What is an motif in literature?
Motif – a reoccurring image, idea, or theme.

8 Motif - Three: A Magic Number
In "The Gift of the Magi," the number three figures prominently. Consider the following:  The story has three characters: Della, Jim, and Madame Sophronie. Della counts her money three times (Paragraph 1). The narrator says that "Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles (Paragraph 2). The story refers three times to the Youngs' supper entree: chops. The story mentions the Queen of Sheba, who gave three types of gifts to King Solomon: spices, gold, and jewels.

9 Three: A Magic Number Continued
A sentence in Paragraph 5 says, "She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard.” Jim tells Della, I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. The narrator alliteratively describes Della as speaking with "sudden serious sweetness."

10 Three: A Magic Number Continued
The narrator alliteratively describes Della as speaking with "sudden serious sweetness.“ The were three magi: Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar. The magi offered three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. According to tradition, the magi were kings of Arabia, Persia, and India.  The story centers on three valuables: Jim's gold watch, Della's hair, and the love Jim and Della share.

11 Post-reading

12 Characters Della Young
Pretty young woman who cuts off her beautiful long hair and sells it to buy a Christmas gift for her husband.  James Dillingham Young Husband of Della. He sells his gold watch to buy a gift for Della. Madame Sofronie Shop owner who buys Della's hair. . 

13 Setting Setting includes what three elements? Time Place Mood
Identify these elements of the story. *Remember that setting is often revealed indirectly; that means that you need to look for clues which help reveal this information.   

14 Climax Identify the climax of the story and be ready to explain why this is considered the climax. The climax occurs when Della and Jim open their gifts.  

15 Identify the other elements of plot
The climax occurs when Della and Jim open their gifts.  

16 Theme What exactly is this elusive thing called theme?
The theme of a fable is its moral. The theme of a parable is its teaching. The theme of a piece of fiction is its message or insight into life and how people behave. In fiction, the theme is not intended to teach or preach. In fact, it is not presented directly at all. You extract it from the characters, action, and setting that make up the story. In other words, you must figure out the theme yourself.

17 Finding the Theme Here are some ways to uncover the theme in a story:
Ask yourself, “What is the story about?” – this is different than summarizing the plot. Consider the underlying idea the author is trying to communicate. Check out the title. Sometimes it tells you a lot about the theme. Notice motifs (repeating patterns and symbols). Sometimes these lead you to the theme. What allusions are made throughout the story? What is the conflict and what are the significant actions in the story? What greater meaning may they have? Remember that theme, plot, and structure are inseparable, all helping to inform and reflect back on each other.

18 Theme What is “The Gift of the Magi” about?
Considering conflict, motifs, allusions, etc., identify the theme of the story. You must be able to provide textual evidence to support your ideas.

19 Theme: love and sacrifice
Della and Jim give each other the best of all possible gifts, love. It does not matter that Jim no longer has the gold watch to display on the elegant chain that Della gave him. Nor does it matter that Della no longer has long, luxurious hair to comb with the gift Jim gave her. What matters is that they have is each other.  *Remember that the theme cannot simply be one word. It is a statement about the work’s message or insight into life and how people behave. What important idea does this story communicate about love and sacrifice?

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