“The Gift of the Magi” – Deciphering the Theme
ENG 125 Introduction to Literature
Professor Patricia Vineski
6 Oct 2013
The theme of a story, as I’ve learned, is much more than what happened; this is the plot. Instead, the theme is much more; it “tells you what the story is about” (Clugston, 2010, para. 7.1). In order to decipher what the theme is, our text tells us to ask the question “how” a few different ways in order to come to a final conclusion. “How does the writer use setting to narrow the underlying idea? How do characters make particular aspects of the underlying idea clear? How does conflict reveal the strength or worth of the underlying idea?” ...view middle of the document...
Later in the story, when she gives her husband his watch chain, he sees what she did to her hair, and is speechless. For he had sold his gold watch in order to buy a special hair comb for Della. This ironic turn of events showed the reader how much they truly loved each other, and how much each of them was willing to sacrifice for the other.
The first question I am to ask myself in order to narrow down what the theme of the story was “how does the writer use setting to narrow the underlying idea?” The writer, in the beginning of the story, painted a pretty good picture of how Della and her husband lived. He described their tiny apartment, and their lack of money to buy presents for each other. He also described how hard Della worked, as well as how long it took, to save up the $1.87 in order to buy the present. This allowed me to quickly understand that Della was deeply motivated to buy something nice for her husband, and to make Christmas special for him. After asking myself this first question, I believe the theme of the story has to deal with love.
The second question I have to ask myself is “How do characters make particular aspects of the underlying idea clear?” As I described earlier, both Della and her husband demonstrated their unconditional love for each other by selling their most prized possessions in order to have enough money to buy the other a gift that would make Christmas extremely special. These selfless acts demonstrated their deep love for each other, and made it easy for the reader to see it, too. After asking this second question, I can narrow down the theme a little more to selfless acts of love.
The third, and final, question our text wants me to ask is, “How does conflict reveal the strength or worth of the underlying idea?” At the end of the story, when they both realized what had happened (he sold his watch to buy the comb, and she sold her hair to buy the watch), the ironic events lead them both to find the humor it in, and to realize they love...