The Gift of the Magi Essay

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In the following essay, Rea traces some of the events and stories that may have led O. Henry to write "The Gift of the Magi," pointing out the differences that make his story superior to its models.

There are two accounts, differing in significant details, of how O. Henry wrote "The Gift of the Magi," but neither indicates a source for the "gimmick" on which the story rests. Since we intend to suggest such a source, these accounts are worth examining. According to one version, Dan Smith sought out O. Henry, whose Christmas story he was to illustrate for the World. O. Henry, who had not yet even an idea for the story, told Smith to proceed with an illustration whose elements he suggested. The author would then fit his story to the picture, a story he later wrote while his friend Lindsey Denison lay on a...

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This section contains 1,475 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Gift of the Magi Study Guide
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