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“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

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					―The Gift of the Magi‖
by: O. Henry

         English I Literature
              C. Edge
               ECHS
―The Gift of the Magi‖, p. 202
Vocabulary

 Instigate – v.: gives rise to. Instigate is
 generally used to mean ―provokes or
 urges on to some action.‖

   Synonyms: encourage, incite, initiate,
   provoke, spur, stir up, urge
   Antonyms: denounce, deter, discourage,
   prevent, prohibit
―The Gift of the Magi‖, p. 202
Vocabulary
 Scrutiny – n.: close inspection

   Synonyms: analysis, eagle eye,
   inspection, scan, study
   Antonyms: cursory look, glance
―The Gift of the Magi‖, p. 202
Vocabulary
 Depreciate – v.: belittle; lower the
 value of

   Synonyms: cheapen, decrease, deflate,
   detract, discredit, disgrace, diminish,
   downgrade, reduce, undervalue, write off
   Antonyms: appreciate, cherish, esteem,
   prize, value
―The Gift of the Magi‖, p. 202
Vocabulary
 Covet – v.: to long for something;
 here it is used as an adjective to
 describe something that is longed-for.

   Synonyms: crave, hanker for*, itch for*,
   long for, lust after, thirst for, want
   Antonyms: ignore, not want, reject,
   spurn
Plot Structure

 The way that a story is arranged and
 presented.
 Plot Diagram:
   Stage 1 – Exposition
   Stage 2 – Rising Action
   Stage 3 – Climax
   Stage 4 – Falling Action
   Stage 5 -- Resolution
Setting

 The time and location of a story’s
 action.
 What is the setting of the story?
IRONY

 A contrast or discrepancy between
 expectation and reality
 There are three types of irony:
   Verbal Irony
   Situational Irony
   Dramatic Irony
Verbal Irony

 When a writer or speaker says one
 thing but really means something
 completely different.
 EXAMPLE:
   Calling Hugh Heffner a model of virtuous
   behavior.
Situational Irony
 Occurs when there is a contrast between
 what would seem appropriate and what
 really happens or when there is a
 contradiction between what we expect to
 happen and what really does take place.
 EXAMPLE:
   The road runner runs through a brick wall on
   which Wile E. Coyote has painted a picture of a
   road that continues on into the distance.
Dramatic Irony
 Occurs when the audience or the reader
 knows something important that a
 character in a play or story does not know.
 EXAMPLE:
   In the movie, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,
   the audience knows that Kate Hudson’s
   character is playing Matthew McConaughey’s
   character in order to write a story for her
   magazine, but he actually thinks that she is
   falling in love with him.
Simile and Metaphor

 Simile –
   Example:


 Metaphor –
   Example:
Allusion

 A reference to another work of
 literature; or a reference to a person
 or event in history.
 Example:
Theme

 The central idea about life revealed in
 the story.
 What is the theme of the story?
―The Gift of the Magi‖
 This O. Henry classic, famous for its
 characteristic ―snapper,‖ or surprise
 ending, is a tale of selfless love
 between a husband and a wife. At
 Christmas, Della sells her long,
 beautiful hair to buy her husband,
 Jim, a platinum fob chain for his
 prized watch. Meanwhile, he has sold
 his watch to buy an expensive set of
 combs for her hair.
Critical Thinking, p. 204
 ―Which instigates the moral reflection that
 life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles,
 with sniffles predominating.‖
 Do you agree with this ―moral reflection‖?
 Explain.
 You may believe that for most people, life
 is full of hardship, suffering, and sorrow, or
 you may see this view as too pessimistic—
 that life is what you make of it.
Making Inferences, p. 204
 Read the second paragraph through the
 fourth paragraph on p. 204
 What do these details tell you about the
 couple and the setting of the story?
 The couple is poor, since they have a
 shabby apartment, their income has
 shrunk, and they can’t afford to fix things.
 The story takes place in the past, since
 both the rent and the husband’s income
 are far less than they would be today.
Diction—a writer’s choice of words

 P. 205—‖When Della reached home, her
 intoxication gave way a little to prudence
 and reason. She got out her curling irons
 and lighted the gas and went to work
 repairing the ravages made by generosity
 added to love. Which is always a
 tremendous task…‖
 This paragraph contains highly ornate
 diction. Paraphrase it in plain diction.
Diction, p. 205

 Sample paraphrase:
   ―When Della got home, her happiness
   lessened, and her mind turned to
   practical matters. To fix the damage
   love and generosity had caused, she
   tried to curl the hair she had left, but it
   wasn’t easy.‖
Irony in ―The Gift of the Magi‖

 On p. 206, paragraph fifteen, Della
 sees the combs that Jim has bought
 for her.
 Why is this an ironic situation?
 Possible answer: With her hair cut so
 short, Della has no use for the combs;
 it’s ironic because Della sold her hair
 to buy Jim a gift.
Irony in ―The Gift of the Magi‖
 How does this ―snapper‖, or surprise
 twist—the fact that Jim has sold his
 watch—make the situation in the story
 even more ironic?
 Sample answer: Both Della and Jim
 sacrificed their most cherished
 possession to buy something for use
 with the other’s most cherished
 possession.
Question 1, p. 209

 What do you think of O. Henry’s
 comments in the last paragraph of
 this story?
Question 3, p. 209

 Q: An ironic situation is one that
 turns out to be just the opposite of
 what we—or the characters in the
 story—expect. Describe the
 situational irony in this story.

 Q: What lesson about life and love do
 you think it teaches Della and Jim?
Question 4, p. 209

 Q: What is the real ―gift‖ referred to in
 the title? (Notice that O. Henry says
 ―gift,‖ not ―gifts.‖)
Question 5, p. 209

 Q: A paradox is an apparent
 contradiction that is actually true. It
 may be a statement or a situation.
 Explain why the following statement is
 a paradox: Jim and Della were of the
 richest couples on earth.
Question 6, p. 209

 Q: Under what circumstances would
 you give up a cherished possession—
 as Jim and Della did?
Question 7, p. 209

 Q: What do you think this little story,
 written almost a century ago, has to
 say about our consumer society
 today? Do you think that we often
 equate love with money? Consider
 advertising, the amount of money we
 spend on gifts, the value placed on
 having many possessions.
Question 8, p. 209

 Q: O. Henry’s poverty-stricken
 couple is sustained by so much love
 that it is hard to imagine a cross word
 coming between the two of them.
 Suppose a writer with a view of the
 world different from O. Henry’s—
 someone who viewed the human
 nature as selfish—were to write about
 this struggling couple. How might the
 story change?
Question 9, p. 209

 Q: Describe your response to O.
 Henry’s ending—the ―snapper.‖ Do
 you enjoy this kind of irony in stories
 or movies, or does it seem
 contrived—a trick played on the
 reader?

				
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