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O. Henry was the pen name of American William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). O. Henry's short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings
William Sidney Porter was born on September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina . His middle name at birth was Sidney; he changed the spelling to Sydney in 1898. His parents were Dr. Algernon Sidney Porter (1825–1888), a physician, and Mary Jane Virginia Swaim Porter (1833–1865). They were married April 20, 1858. When William was three, his mother died from tuberculosis , and he and his father moved into the home of his paternal grandmother. As a child, Porter was always reading. He read everything from classics to dime novels . His favorite work was One Thousand and One Nights .
Porter graduated from his aunt Evelina Maria Porter's elementary school in 1876. He then enrolled at the Lindsey Street High School. His aunt continued to tutor him until he was fifteen. In 1879, he started working in his uncle's drugstore and in 1881, at the age of nineteen, he was licensed as a pharmacist. At the drugstore, he also showed off his natural artistic talents by sketching the townsfolk.
Mr. and Mrs. James and Delia Dillingham Young was a financially-struggling young couple living in an $8-per-week furnished flat.
It was a day before Christmas, and Delia was worried that she only had $1.87, not enough to buy her husband a gift.
She saved the $1.87 from bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher.
After crying and feeling sad for having not enough money for a gift, she decided to sell her hair, for $20.
After her hair was cut, she bought a platinum fob chain worth $21, for her husband’s precious gold watch.
She then went home excited to give such gift. At night, when her husband Jim came home, he stared at her, with a peculiar expression on his face.
Delia explained that she had her hair cut and sold it for her to buy him a gift. Jim said, with an air of idiocy, “You say your hair is gone?”
Later, Jim got a package from his coat pocket and threw it upon the table.
After unwrapping that gift, Delia screamed for joy, for in it was a set of expensive combs which she had yearned for, without expecting to own them.
Then she gave her gift to Jim, holding it out to him eagerly upon her open palm... Jim tumbled down on the couch…
“ Dell,” said he,”let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ‘em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs…”
The magi, as you know, were wise men---wonderfully wise men---who brought gifts to the Babe on the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents, Being wise,their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication.
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. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
A.) CHARACTERS: The two main characters are both protagonists (There is no antagonist): Mr. and Mrs. James and Delia Dillingham Young.- DEVELOPING/ Round Minor character: Madame Sofronie - STATIC/ Flat
B.) PLOT - Linear a) Introduction – The story starts with a description of the place where the major characters live, and then the major female character is introduced.
b.) Rising Action One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
c.) Climax Jim stepped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
d. Falling Action Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
e. Denouement "Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy Your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."
C.) SETTING a.) Place The action takes place in New York City in a very modest apartment and in a hair shop down the street from the apartment. Although Porter does not mention New York by name, he does refer to Coney Island, the city's most famous amusement park, located in the borough of Brooklyn.
b) time – At Christmas Eve, a long time ago c) weather condition- winter time
social conditions – The couple was financially- struggling e) mood or atmosphere - … Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles…
D.) POINT OF VIEW Stream of Consciousness - The story is told so that the reader feels as if they are inside the head of one character and knows all their thoughts and reactions.
E. LITERARY DEVICES Foreshadowing Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair.
Symbol The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men-who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication.
G. CONFLICT 1) External – The couple’s financial struggle 2) Internal: Person vs. Circumstances (classical) – The couple struggles against poverty Person vs. Himself/Herself (psychological) –Delia struggles with the painful decision of letting go her only prized possession