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  • Date Submitted: 03/18/2013 05:03 PM
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Theme and Narrative Elements of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi”
Deidra Lyyski
ENG 125: Introduction to Literature
Instructor Larry Sexton
March 16, 2013

Theme and Narrative Elements of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi”
  The theme of a story is the idea behind the story; it makes the underlying ideas of the story come to life and it represents the lesson that the author is trying to convey to the reader.   In William Sydney Porter’s (more commonly known by the pseudonym “O. Henry”) short story     “ The Gift of the Magi” (Henry , 1906), the theme is centered around the power and importance of giving as an expression of love. Other narrative elements such as the point-of-view and symbols in the story help strengthen O. Henry’s moral standpoint.
Rhonda Zaid states that “Gentle and ingenious, O. Henry’s writing is pervaded by that eminently stable quality known as “human interest”.   This quality is best exemplified in his quest for sincerity; his desire to write about real people in real situations” (Zaid, 2004).   In Gift of the Magi, O. Henry writes about a young couple at Christmas time who are not quite able to afford gifts for each other; which is both of their biggest desires: to find the perfect gift for the other person.   Neither of the characters (James and Della Dillingham Young) allows the negative emotions caused by their poverty to cloud their determination to make the person they love happy.   This desire displayed by the main character, Della, is the embodiment of the narrative theme, “The joy and sustaining power of self-sacrificial love is the greatest gift of all, and that is what these two share”. (Roger, 2010).
The point-of-view, (the person who is telling the story and how the action is presented (Clugston, 2010) that O.Henry writes from is the third-person; this means that he is not a participant in the story, but is telling it as someone looking on from the sidelines.   By choosing to write in the third-person point-of-view, Henry is able...

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