The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry, 1905
The magic trick:
Oh, the irony!
We all know this story, right? You probably read it in elementary school. Well, I can tell you, 10 years later, 20 years later, 30 years later, it’s still charming. The story is told from the wife’s perspective, so as to allow the ironic twist to surprise the reader at the end, just as it surprises her.
But it’s not the mechanics of the storytelling that make for a successful piece. The secret lies in the story itself. It is a great story, plain and simple. The mirror-image irony is perfect. The humor is light and the sadness just present enough to provide an ideal counterweight. The sweetness balance is just right. And that’s quite a trick on O. Henry’s part. It’s his finest story.
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.