The Gift of the Magi The Gift of the Magi

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					                   The Gift of the Magi




Introduction

This lesson plan is designed to use the short story The Gift of the Magi to facilitate English learning in a
typical Hong Kong classroom setting. The design aims to integrate all four macro-skills into the
seven tasks. The components of this document include a worksheet for students and four appendices.
Users of this lesson plan only need to follow the tasks in the student worksheet, but may need
knowledge on some literary devices to completely understand how some of the tasks work. The target
group is S3 students.
The Gift of the Magi – Worksheet
Task 1:    Listening

A. Listen to paragraphs one to three, and answer the following questions:

1. What season was it in the year?
   Ans:


2. What festival was coming?
   Ans:


3. How would describe Jim and Della after listening to the first three paragraphs of the story?
   Ans:


4. Della wanted to buy Jim a present, but she felt very sad. Why?
   Ans:


5. How much money did Della have?
   Ans:


B. Listen to paragraphs four to eight, and answer the following questions:

1. What were the two treasures in Jim and Della’s house?
   Ans:


2. What did Della decide to do after looking at herself in the mirror?
   Ans:


3. Where did Della go?
   Ans:



Task 2:    Jigsaw Reading

Work with three other classmates. Read the excerpts and rearrange them to form the ending of the story.



Task 3:    The Round Character, The Flat Character and The Foil

Identify the round character, the flat character and the foil in the story. What characteristics of Della the writer
is trying to show through the following characters? Read the conversation carefully and see if you can find out
the answer.


             Foil                                Characteristics of Della shown through the foil



          Mr. Smith




             Jim
Task 4:     What is the theme?

A story usually has one main theme and several minor themes.

Eight of these themes can be found in The Gift of the Magi. Explain how O.Henry uses each theme you
identify and then check the key to see if you have found all the themes in the story.

    •     Art                                 •    Growing Up                          •   Money
    •     Beauty                              •    Heroism                             •   Nature
    •     Bravery                             •    Honesty                             •   Peace
    •     Death                               •    Hope                                •   Poverty
    •     Fear                                •    Identity                            •   Pride
    •     Family                              •    Independence                        •   Sacrifice
    •     Faith                               •    Justice                             •   Religion
    •     Freedom                             •    Knowledge                           •   Sacrifice
    •     The Future                          •    Law                                 •   Truth
    •     Giving                              •    Loss                                •   War
    •     Greed                               •    Love                                •   Wisdom




Task 5: Wise or unwise?           Rich or poor?

Read the last paragraph of the story. Put their names in the slot(s) that best describes the characters
and discuss with your group mates to see if they agree with you or not. Come up with a group
answer.

Put down “Della” and “Jim” in the appropriate box(es).
                                           RICH                                            POOR


        WISE



     UNWISE




Task 6: Tableau Drama

This is also known as “Still Drama”. Work with a partner. You and your partner have to select two
characters (one from the story, e.g. Della and Mrs. Smith; and another one from or related to the story,
e.g. Jim’s boss or Della’s mother). Design a gesture and two to three sentences that one character
would say to the other. Act out the drama in front of the class.

Example:
Della (jovial and excited):   Thank you very much indeed, Mrs. Smith. Now I can buy a present for my husband.
Mrs. Smith (sly and cool):    Heh…. In fact, your hair is worth $100. Stupid, you! You didn’t even bargain with me.
                              I’m making good money this time.

                                                                                                 Gesture
          Character                               What he or she says
                                                                                           (You can draw it here)
Task 7: Story Writing

Choose one of the following topics and write about 200 words.

1.   It is interesting to see that Jim is not described much in the story. Re-write the story from Jim’s
     point of view.

2.   Write what happens after the ending of the original story.

3.   What is the wisest gift to give to the one that you love?    Explain.
Appendix One: The Gift of the Magi


                                           The Gift of the Magi
                                               By O’Henry

1.   Della counted her money three times. She had only one dollar eighty seven cents. That was all.
     And tomorrow would be Christmas. What Christmas gift could she buy with only one dollar and
     eighty seven cents? Della lay down on her old bed and cried and cried. Which leads to the
     thought that life is made up of big cries, little cries and smiles, with more little cries than smiles.

2.   Let’s leave Della alone for a while and look at her home. The chairs and tables were old and
     poor. Outside there was a mailbox without mail, and a door without doorbell. The name on the
     door said Mr. Jim Young – Della’s dear husband Jim.

3.   Della knew that would be home soon. She dried her eyes and stood up. She looked at the
     mirror. She began to comb her hair. She felt very sad. She wanted to buy Jim a Christmas
     gift – something good. But what could she do with just one dollar eighty seven cents? She
     combed her hair in the mirror and thought. Suddenly she had an idea.

4.   Now, Jim and Della had only two treasures. One was Jim’s gold pocket watch. The other was
     Della’s hair. It was long and brown, and fell down her back. Della looked in the mirror a little
     longer. Her eyes were sad, but then she smiled. She put on her old brown coat and her hat.
     She danced out of the house and down the street. She stopped in front of a door that said, “Mrs.
     Smith. Buy all kinds of hair.”

5.   “Will you buy my hair?” Della asked.

6.   “I buy hair,” said Mrs. Smith. “Take off your hat. Let’s see your hair.”

7.   Della took off her hat. Down came the beautiful brown waterfall of hair. Mrs. Smith lifted
     Della’s hair with an experienced hand. “Twenty dollars,” she said.

8.   “Give me the money quick,” said Della.

9.   The next two hours went by as if they had wings. Della looked in all the stores to choose a gift for
     Jim.

10. She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. It was a chain – simple
    round rings of silver. It was perfect for Jim’s gold watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it
    must be for him. It was like him. Quiet and with great value. She gave the shopkeeper twenty-one
    dollars and she hurried home with the eighty-seven cents that was left.

11. “If Jim does not kill me before he takes a second look at me,” she said to herself, “he’ll say I look
    like a song girl. But what could I do--oh! What could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

12. At seven o’clock that night the coffee was made and the pan on the back of the stove was hot and
    ready to cook the meat.

13. Jim was never late coming home from work. Della held the silver chain in her hand and sat near
    the door. Then she heard his step and she turned white for just a minute. She had a way of saying a
    little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make
    him think I am still pretty.”

14. The door opened and Jim stepped in. He looked thin and very serious. Poor man, he was only
    twenty-two and he had to care for a wife. He needed a new coat and gloves to keep his hands
    warm.

15. Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a dog smelling a bird. His eyes were fixed upon
    Della. There was an expression in them that she could not read, and it frightened her. It was not
    anger, nor surprise, nor fear, nor any of the feelings that she had been prepared for. He simply
     looked at her with a strange expression on his face. Della went to him.

16. “Jim, my love,” she cried, “do not look at me that way. I had my hair cut and sold because I could
    not have lived through Christmas without giving you a gift. My hair will grow out again. I just had
    to do it. My hair grows very fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let us be happy. You do not
    know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I have for you.”

17. “You have cut off your hair?” asked Jim, slowly, as if he had not accepted the information even
    after his mind worked very hard.
18. “Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Do you not like me just as well? I am the same person without
    my hair, right?

19. Jim looked about the room as if he were looking for something.

20. “You say your hair is gone?” he asked.

21. “You need not look for it,” said Della. “It is sold, I tell you – sold and gone, too. It is Christmas
    Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it was cut for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she
    went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put
    the meat on, Jim?”

22. Jim seemed to awaken quickly and put his arms around Della. Then he took a package from his
    coat and threw it on the table.

23. “Do not make any mistake about me, Dell,” he said. “I do not think there is any haircut that could
    make me like my girl any less. But if you will open that package you may see why you had me
    frightened at first.”

24. White fingers quickly tore at the string and paper. There was a scream of joy; and then, alas! a
    change to tears and cries, requiring the man of the house to use all his skill to calm his wife.

25. For there were the combs -- the special set of objects to hold her hair that Della had wanted ever
    since she saw them in a shop window. Beautiful combs, made of shells, with jewels at the edge –
    just the color to wear in the beautiful hair that was no longer hers. They cost a lot of money, she
    knew, and her heart had wanted them without ever hoping to have them. And now, the beautiful
    combs were hers, but the hair that should have touched them was gone.

26. But she held the combs to herself, and soon she was able to look up with a smile and say, “My hair
    grows so fast, Jim!”

27. Then Della jumped up like a little burned cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

28. Jim had not yet seen his beautiful gift. She happily held it out to him in her open hands. The silver
    chain seemed so bright.

29. “Isn’t it wonderful, Jim? I looked all over town to find it. You will have to look at the time a
    hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

30. Instead of obeying, Jim fell on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

31. “Dell,” said he, “let us put our Christmas gifts away and keep them a while. They are too nice to
    use just right now. I sold my gold watch to get the money to buy the set of combs for your hair.
    And now, why not put the meat on.”

32. The magi were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. They
    invented the art of giving Christmas gifts. Being wise, their gifts were wise ones. And here I have
    told you the story of two young people who most unwisely gave for each other the greatest
    treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who
    give gifts, these two were the wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
Appendix Two:             The eight themes that O' Henry uses


Beauty
Della is worried that Jim won't think she is beautiful with short hair, but Jim loves her for more than
just her beautiful hair and how she looks. If you really love somebody, they are beautiful no matter how
they look.

Family
Jim and Della are husband and wife and they love each other. Jim's watch was given to him by his
father and has been in his family for many years. Still, he sacrifices it out of love for Della.

Giving
Della and Jim both feel that it is important to give nice gifts to each other to express their love.

Identity
Della learns that Jim loves her for just for being herself, not because of her hair or the Christmas
present she buys him.

Love
Because Jim and Della love each other, there is really no need to prove their love by buying gifts for
each other. Love is the greatest gift.

Money
Della and Jim sell valuable things to get money to buy gifts for each other, because they are poor.

Sacrifice
Both Della and Jim give up valuable possessions so they can buy Christmas gifts for each other.

Wisdom
Della and Jim were wise because they were willing to make sacrifices to show their love for each other.
Appendix Three:             The part to be read to the students in the listening task


                                             The Gift of the Magi
                                                 By O’Henry


1.   Della counted her money three times. She had only one dollar eighty seven cents. That was all. And
     tomorrow would be Christmas. What Christmas gift could she buy with only one dollar and eighty seven
     cents?   Della lay down on her old bed and cried and cried. Which leads to the thought that life is made
     up of big cries, little cries and smiles, with more little cries than smiles.


2.   Let’s leave Della alone for a while and look at her home. The chairs and tables were old and poor.
     Outside there was a mailbox without mail, and a door without doorbell. The name on the door said Mr.
     Jim Young – Della’s dear husband Jim.


3.   Della knew that would be home soon. She dried her eyes and stood up. She looked at the mirror. She
     began to comb her hair. She felt very sad. She wanted to buy Jim a Christmas gift – something good.
     But what could she do with just one dollar eighty seven cents?       She combed her hair in the mirror and
     thought. Suddenly she had an idea.


4.   Now, Jim and Della had only two treasures. One was Jim’s gold pocket watch, which had been his
     father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. It was long and brown, and fell down her
     back. Della looked in the mirror a little longer. Her eyes were sad, but then she smiled. She put on her
     old brown coat and her hat. She danced out of the house and down the street. She stopped in front of a
     door that said, “Mrs. Smith. Buy all kinds of hair.”


5.   “Will you buy my hair?”      Della asked.


6.   “I buy hair,” said Mrs. Smith. “Take off your hat. Let’s see your hair.”


7.   Della took off her hat. Down came the beautiful brown waterfall of hair. Mrs. Smith lifted Della’s hair
     with an experienced hand. “Twenty dollars,” she said.


8.   “Give me the money quick,” said Della.
Appendix Four:              Jigsaw Reading




D:


The next two hours went by as if they had wings. Della looked in all the stores to choose a gift for Jim.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. It was a chain – simple round rings of
silver. It was perfect for Jim’s gold watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be for him. It was like
him. Quiet and with great value. She gave the shopkeeper twenty-one dollars and she hurried home with the
eighty-seven cents that was left.

“If Jim does not kill me before he takes a second look at me,” she said to herself, “he’ll say I look like a song girl.
But what could I do--oh! What could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

At seven o’clock that night the coffee was made and the pan on the back of the stove was hot and ready to cook
the meat.

Jim was never late coming home from work. Della held the silver chain in her hand and sat near the door. Then
she heard his step and she turned white for just a minute. She had a way of saying a little silent prayer about the
simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”




B:

The door opened and Jim stepped in. He looked thin and very serious. Poor man, he was only twenty-two and he
had to care for a wife. He needed a new coat and gloves to keep his hands warm.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a dog smelling a bird. His eyes were fixed upon Della. There was
an expression in them that she could not read, and it frightened her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor fear, nor
any of the feelings that she had been prepared for. He simply looked at her with a strange expression on his face.
Della went to him.

“Jim, my love,” she cried, “do not look at me that way. I had my hair cut and sold because I could not have lived
through Christmas without giving you a gift. My hair will grow out again. I just had to do it. My hair grows
very fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let us be happy. You do not know what a nice-- what a beautiful,
nice gift I have for you.”

“You have cut off your hair?” asked Jim, slowly, as if he had not accepted the information even after his mind
worked very hard.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Do you not like me just as well? I am the same person without my hair,
right?

Jim looked about the room as if he were looking for something.

“You say your hair is gone?” he asked.

“You need not look for it,” said Della. “It is sold, I tell you – sold and gone, too. It is Christmas Eve, boy. Be
good to me, for it was cut for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden
serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the meat on, Jim?”
C:

Jim seemed to awaken quickly and put his arms around Della. Then he took a package from his coat and threw it
on the table.

“Do not make any mistake about me, Dell,” he said. “I do not think there is any haircut that could make me like
my girl any less. But if you will open that package you may see why you had me frightened at first.”

White fingers quickly tore at the string and paper. There was a scream of joy; and then, alas! a change to tears
and cries, requiring the man of the house to use all his skill to calm his wife.

For there were the combs -- the special set of objects to hold her hair that Della had wanted ever since she saw
them in a shop window. Beautiful combs, made of shells, with jewels at the edge – just the color to wear in the
beautiful hair that was no longer hers. They cost a lot of money, she knew, and her heart had wanted them
without ever hoping to have them. And now, the beautiful combs were hers, but the hair that should have touched
them was gone.

But she held the combs to herself, and soon she was able to look up with a smile and say, “My hair grows so fast,
Jim!”




A:

Then Della jumped up like a little burned cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful gift. She happily held it out to him in her open hands. The silver chain seemed
so bright.

“Isn’t it wonderful, Jim? I looked all over town to find it. You will have to look at the time a hundred times a day
now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim fell on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let us put our Christmas gifts away and keep them a while. They are too nice to use just right
now. I sold my gold watch to get the money to buy the set of combs for your hair. And now, why not put the
meat on.”

The magi were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. They invented the art of
giving Christmas gifts. Being wise, their gifts were wise ones. And here I have told you the story of children who
most unwisely gave for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these
days, let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two were the wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the
magi.

				
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