The Gift of the Magi Introducing the Story On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat....
The Gift of the Magi Introducing the Story This classic short story tells a tale of selfless love between a husband and wife. Like many O. Henry stories, “The Gift of the Magi” is famous for its surprise ending. Della and Jim are short on money but not on love. On Christmas Eve, Della resorts to selling her hair—her most cherished possession—in order to buy a special gift for her beloved husband. [End of Section]
The Gift of the Magi Literary Focus: Situational Irony Situational irony occurs when what happens is different from what we expect. Has a story ever surprised you? Have characters ever done something you didn’t expect? Has a plot ever taken a surprising twist or turn? If so, you’ve experienced situational irony. This type of irony reminds us that life is full of surprise and uncertainty.
The Gift of the Magi Literary Focus: Situational Irony “The Gift of the Magi” contains a classic example of a particular type of situational irony: the surprise ending. Whether you find the ending of “The Gift of the Magi” to be happy, sad, or bittersweet, you will probably find it satisfying. [End of Section]
We read because we are curious. A writer sets up an intriguing situation, and we read on because we want to know what happens. The Gift of the Magi Reading Skills: Making Predictions As we read, we make guesses, or predictions, about what will happen. our understanding of how stories work clues in the text Predictions our own experience of life
As you read “The Gift of the Magi,” keep a record of your predictions. Read the first paragraph and ask yourself, “What will happen next?” Write down your prediction. Stop at least two more times to write down predictions. Ask yourself, “Is the writer keeping me in suspense? Is he succeeding in surprising me?” [End of Section] The Gift of the Magi Reading Skills: Making Predictions
The Magi referred to in the title of this story are the three “wise men” who, according to the Bible (Matthew 2:1–13), 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 Gift of the Magi Background [End of Section]
The Gift of the Magi Quickwrite Make the Connection If you could save just one item from a disaster—a fire, a flood, an earthquake—what would it be? In a few sentences, 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? [End of Section]
Previewing the Vocabulary instigates v.: urges on to some action, usually negative, or sets something in motion; here, gives rise to. agile adj.: moving with ease. depreciate v.: make something seem less important; lower the value of. cascade n.: waterfall. ransacking v.: searching thoroughly. The Gift of the Magi Vocabulary
Previewing the Vocabulary discreet adj.: showing good judgment in what one says or does; especially being silent or careful. scrutiny n.: close inspection. nimble adj.: quickly moving. coveted v. used as adj.: longed-for. singed v. used as adj.: slightly burned. The Gift of the Magi Vocabulary
1.The thieves left after ___________ the jewelry display. 2.The shoplifter tried to be ___________ but did not escape the ___________ of the security guards. 3.Will a ___________ frame ___________ the value of a painting? Vocabulary Activity Fill in the blanks with the correct Word Bank words. discreet depreciateransackingsinged scrutiny ransacking discreet scrutiny singeddepreciate The Gift of the Magi Vocabulary [End of Section]
O. Henry (1862–1910), whose real name was William Sydney Porter, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. His mother died when he was three, and his grandmother and an aunt took him in. In 1882, Porter moved to a ranch in Denison, Texas, for health reasons. He spent his free time reading, listening to tales of the West, and studying French, German, and Spanish. More About the Writer The Gift of the Magi Meet the Writer [End of Section]