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1) What is Della doing at the beginning of the story and why?
At the beginning of the story Della was moping and crying because she only had ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-TWO CENTS to use to buy her husband Jim a gift for Christmas, and it was Christmas Eve meaning she had very little time to think of something.
2) Which possessions do Della and Jim value most?
Della valued her hair. Jim valued his gold chain.
3) What is Jim’s initial reaction to Della when he arrives home?
Jim’s initial reaction when he entered the flat, (their home or apartment), was shock.
4) What gifts do the couple give each other?
Della gets Jim a watch chain with the money she got from selling her hair. Jim gets Della hair combs that are designed for both fastening and adorning a woman’s hair.
5) According to the narrator, who were the Magi?
The Magi were the three wise men, (kings), that delivered presents to Jesus’ on his birthday,(Christmas).
6) The story begins on Christmas Eve. Why is this aspect of setting so important to the story?
This aspect of setting is important because it shows how little time they have to get each other a gift.
7) What do Della’s and Jim’s sacrifices tell you about their relationship?
Della and Jim’s sacrifices show that they care about each other because they both gave up something special to them to get each other a thoughtful gift for Christmas.
8) Della compares the watch chain to Jim: “Quietness and value-the description applied to both.” Does this description apply to Jim when he enters the flat? Why?
Yes, this can be applied to Jim when he entered the flat because he was shocked but stood quiet. Value can also be applied to Jim also because you can tell that he values his wife Della more than his gold pocket watch.
9) What is both wonderful an terrible about each gift? use details from the story to explain the irony of the situation.
What was wonderful about each gift is that they were both things that each person wanted, and they were thoughtful. What was terrible about each gift was that Della would not be able to really use the combs too much, because her hair is short. Jim cannot use the watch chain that Della gave him, because he sold his gold watch to get Della the combs. So basically what was terrible about both gifts is that they were kind of useless because they can’ really use them since they both made sacrifices.
10) Why might the narrator refer to Della and Jim as the Magi?
The narrator might refer as Della and Jim as the Magi because they both get thoughtful and wise gifts to each other like the Magi gave thoughtful and wise gifts to Jesus. The narrator says that of all who give gifts, these two are the wisest. Their sacrifices for each other made them wise, therefor are compared to the three wise men.
11) What does the narrator know that the characters don’t know? Cite specific lines from the story as evidence.
The narrator knows that these two are very wise. “…let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two are the wisest…” (page 13).
12) The narrator comments on the characters and events in this story. How would the story change if the narrator were not to comment?
The story would change if the narrator did not comment because then we will not get as good of a feel for the story, meaning that we will not get as good of an explanation.
13) What is the narrator’s opinion of the characters and their actions? Use details from the story to support you answer.
The narrator’s opinions on the character’s actions are foolish, wise, and sorta unwise. “… And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house…” (page 13). “…let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two are the wisest…” (page 13).
extreme unwillingness to spend money
being the greatest or strongest element
police who arrest homeless people or beggars
lobby or hallway
encourage or suggest
relating to or concerning
the state of being wealthy
Able to move quickly and easily
to lose value
a small waterfall
an item of clothing
go through hurriedly, causing damage
fake; something that seems to have value but does not
the state of being drunk or not in one’s right mind
severely damaged effects
one who skips school or disobeys
a hunting dog
attitudes; feelings or emotions
requiring long, hard work
extremely stupid behavior
gathered in his arms
very careful observation
statement of fact
highlighted; clarified or explained
long locks of a woman’s hair
to make more beautiful
to burn lightly
enthusiastic or passionate
- Who were the Magi?
Answer: The Magi were the three Wisemen – Gasper, Melchoir, and Balthazar who traveled from the East to Jerusalem to see the infant Jesus born in a stable. They were guided by a star and they carried precious gifts for Jesus.
- Why was Della worried?
Answer: Initially Della was worried about arranging the required money to buy a nice gift for James at Christmas since she had only one dollar and eighty-seven cents. Hence, she sold her beautiful hair and brought a gift for James. Now her new look troubled her as she looked more like a truant schoolboy. Della was really worried thinking that Jim might be critical about her appearance.
- What did Jim do to get a gift for Della?
Answer: Jim sold his precious golden watch, a family heirloom, in order to get a gift for Della.
- What did Della do after reaching home?
Answer: On reaching home Della got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the damaged hair. After forty minutes of hard work, she looked wonderfully like a truant schoolboy with tiny, close-lying curls on her head. At 7 o’clock, she made coffee and got the frying pan ready to cook the chops.
- What was Jim’s reaction when he returned home?
Answer: Jim was foxed for a moment to find Della without her long beautiful hair. His eyes were fixed upon Della but the expression of his eyes was unintelligible to her, rather it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that Della had been prepared for James simply stared at her fixedly with a peculiar expression on his face.
- What was Jim’s gift for Della?
Ans: Jim’s gift for Della was a set of beautiful tortoiseshell combs, side and back that she always longed for.
- What was Della’s treasured possession?
Ans: Della’s treasured possession was her long and beautiful hair, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters.
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