italki English Reading Club discussion

The Gift of the Magi
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message 1: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianestevenson1040) | 13 comments Mod
A classic story for Christmas. O Henry is the master of the short story.

message 2: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianestevenson1040) | 13 comments Mod
This is a very short story, so even if you are not an advanced reader, you can read-along with us!

Since it was written in 1905, it is in public domain, so you can find it FREE online.
The URL is:

message 3: by Diane (last edited Dec 01, 2013 09:01AM) (new)

Diane (dianestevenson1040) | 13 comments Mod
Before you read, a little bit of background.

O Henry is the pen name of William Sydney Porter. This short story was originally published in a newspaper in 1905, then later in a collection of short stories.

While the story is over a hundred years old, most Americans are very familiar with it. The Gift of the Magi has been adapted for many different plays and even shown up in TV shows as different as "Sesame Street" and "The Simpsons."

There is a lot of great information here:

message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianestevenson1040) | 13 comments Mod
So Della has $1.87. It's the day before Christmas, and she want to buy a special present for her new husband.

I did a little research. $1.87 in 1905 is about $46.00 in 2013 in terms of buying power.

Do you think you could find a special gift for only $46?

message 5: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianestevenson1040) | 13 comments Mod
There are two words that stand out to me in the first paragraph: "bulldoze" and "parsimony".

When O Henry uses "bulldoze" : "...bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man..." I get this great mental image of a pretty, petite woman driving a bulldozer almost over the two shopkeepers to make them give her a better price. Della must have been very smart and determined.

She was so determined to get the cheapest price, but at the same time she was embarrassed because she was acting so stingy and mean (parsimony).

And yet, in spite of all her efforts, she still only had $1.87.

How frustrating is that?!

message 6: by Diane (new)

Diane (dianestevenson1040) | 13 comments Mod
Some unusual vocabulary:

mendicancy = the condition of being a beggar
..."but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad."
I believe he is playing with the idiom "to beggar description," which you use to mean that the reality of something is so great that no amount of description will be sufficient. If you tried, description would be all used up, or beggared.
So he's saying that it wasn't impossible to describe the flat, but is was almost impossible to describe the flat.

coax =

What words or phrases are you wondering about?

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