September 01, 2020 in Literature

The Gift of Love 

O. Henry is a famous American writer, a novelist who is mainly known for the unexpected ends of the stories he wrote and for the smile through the tears. His professional path has been rather complicated and enriching at the same time. O. Henry is considered to be the modernist. The presented paper aims to focus more in details on the modernistic traits in the works of O. Henry in the view of his novel the Gifts of the Magi. 

The overview of the Novel

The story under consideration spills the novel of the situation that has occurred between the two people in love. The young couple being short of money decides to sell their valuables to purchase the gifts for Christmas for one another. Yet, both lovers keep their plans in secret. They are extremely poor. Yet, Della, the girl, has had the beautiful hair that she has managed to sell and but the chain for the clock of her beloved husband. At the same time, her husband sells his favorite watch inherited from the father to purchase the combs for the magnificent hair of his wife. When they exchange their gifts they find out that two of them are irrelevant since they can no longer use them. At the same time, they are still happy due to the efforts each of them has made to please the other. More than that, they are warmed up by the feelings they have towards each other.

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The author has given this essay an unusual title having tied it with the biblical plot of the magi who have brought the gifts for the newborn child. He stresses that these two youngers have stupidly disposed of their money. Yet, at the end, he still calls them magi as they share something bigger between them that deserves to be exchange for the priceless valuables. 

O. Henry’s Professional Path 

While the whole world admires the O. Henry as the greatest writers, this young man turns out to have a quite extraordinary professional and personal path. Having been born as William Sidney Porter in 1862 in the USA, O. Henry has been raised by his grandmother in the family of the physician. William has always been a great reader; yet, due to the life hardships he had to leave the school at the age of fifteen and to start working. He has tried a range of the professions, including the one of the bank clerk and the drug store seller. Then he joined the Houston Post as the columnist as a part of the experiment. Years later he has been accused of emblazing the money and eventually he found himself in jail. Yet, the historians stress that there is much debate regarding the gulf of O. Henry. In order to support his daughter O. Henry started to write the short stories and the novels. Having been released from the jail for the good behavior, William has changed his name to O. Henry and became a writer.   

The Modernistic Traits in the Work of O. Henry

O. Henry is considered among those who pioneered in the modernistic streams. Indeed, his manner of writing is quite straightforward. He does not use a lot of the words to describe the characters of his heroes as did his. He breaks the connections with the traditions. He no longer makes the connections to the politics, history or institutions such as church. On the contrary, he focuses his attention on the themes that are timeless and no of the monetary value. The modernists are also famous for the impetus that they make on the inner strength of their characters and on the individual moral principles. In the essay Gifts of Magi O. Henry portrays the couple that has not violated any rules or stole from others to please one another. They did the right thing at no costs for the others. 

The modernists were also famous for perceiving the world as it is. They gave up on the idea of imagining the new ideals and did not try to establish the luring illusions about the imaginary world. Additionally, they considered that everything in the world is relative. There is no absolute truth or lie. The world was not black and white to the modernists. Indeed, in this story the author shows the relativeness of the wealth. He exhibits the underlying value of the human relations and the importance that they might have for the lives of others. 

The Timeless Literature 

The themes that are employed in the essay are indeed timeless. It shows the purest love between the boy and a girl who are ready to sacrifice their most valuable things in order to purchase the gifts for Christmas for each other. The dichotomy between the wealth and poverty that is developed in an essay turns out to be applicable for all times. Here the two loving hearts experiencing the extreme poverty manage to still get out of the complicated situation. 

The author compares them to the magi that came to the newborn Christ. They brought the gifts that most probably were inappropriate. However, they symbolized the love, generosity and good attitude towards the newborn child. These two lovers have also sold their valuables in order to purchase the gifts for each other. O. Henry truly believed that the life is an adventure and that the surprise is awaiting the person at every corner. In this short story he shows that the two loving hearts are wealthier than the rest of the world since they have each other and the feeling between them. Under such conditions they can survive anything. As O. Henry puts it, «For ten seconds let us look in another direction. Eight dollars a week or a million dollars a year— how different are they?». 

This piece of literature could be definitely attributed to the world literature since it is beyond the time. The themes covered are applicable for all the generations since for al of them the love still matters. As Damrosch notes, “in its most expansive sense, world literature could include any work that has ever reached beyond its home base”. He asserts then that “a work only has an effective life as world literature whenever, and wherever, it is actively present within a literary system beyond that of its original culture”. The story of O. Henry appeals to the teenagers and adults; to the residents of the Middle Ages and the years coming after the Great Depression. They apply to every person since everyone has experienced love for at least once in a lifetime. And, definitely, everyone daydreams of having the same pure sense as has been shared by these two youngsters. I am assured that even the just married admire the love shared by these two. 


In conclusion, it has to be stated that the love is above everything and it can help to fight any kinds of the hardships. It makes one richer. Its absence makes the existence lifeless. That is perhaps the key message of the whole story that has been considered within this essay. O. Henry, as the true modernist, appealed to the theme that is applicable to the people of all ages and generations. As the novelist and as a person, who have come through various hardships. His life has been enriched with the challenges of different kinds. Nevertheless, he has managed to illuminate the light and the hope through his short, yet extremely wise stories.

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