Introduction to Literature: Short Story and Poetry (Eng401)

Fall 2019
Assignment No. 1
Total Marks: 20
Lectures: 1-4

Q1. “The Gift of the Magi” is a story of sacrifice told in third-person narrative. Re-write the story in first-person narrative highlighting Jim’s point of view only. What aspects of the story (200-300 words) would be revealed or hidden then?
(10 marks)

Sitting at my office desk, reminiscing about the past years, I kept thinking about the perfect present for Della. The next day, it was Christmas, and I couldn’t come up with anything that would match her humble presence in my life. She had made me a better person with her forgiving nature. She had kept us strong through thick and thin, and these are the things that I could never thank her enough for. But I had to buy her a fitting present, and with my meager salary, I just could not come up with anything that could express my love for her.
I left the office and walked towards home. I kept thinking about the things that she loved and had once wanted to have. There were not many things, as she had always been the patient one. She contended herself with the things that she had.
I walked onto the pavement immersed in my thoughts. The lights were flashing off of every corner. The Christmas decorations hung from every stall. Every shop window had decorative items placed onto the shelves. The air was joyous; everyone was happy.
I kept looking inside the shops as I passed them by. Suddenly, I saw these beautiful stone studded combs that would make a perfect present for her beautiful hair. In an instance, I remembered that she had once looked onto them from this same spot. She had wanted them then, but couldn’t afford to, and I had to buy these now to thank her for all those times that she remained patient.
I fidgeted in my pocket to find the money. 10$ was all I could come up with. I found myself to be short of 15$. I had made up my mind. I left the shop and went in search of a vendor. I had decided, I would sell my watch to buy Della the combs.

Q1: ‘The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde and ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry are the stories that revolve around the themes of sacrifice and compassion. Compare both stories and examine the difference of treatment of the themes in both stories. Also, create a word cloud of your solution and paste it in your assignment file. (10 Marks)

‘The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde and ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry are the stories that revolve around the themes of sacrifice and compassion. Consciously or unconsciously the message of love and sacrifice has been delivered through these stories. Both stories are a magnificent tale of compassion, love and sacrifice. Wilde and O Henry chooses theme of sacrifice and compassion in order to show how modern society is lacking these traits.
The stories carry various themes: the theme of sacrifice being the major one. Wilde chooses more imaginative style to represent this theme through the characters of the swallow and the prince. On the other hand, O. Henry decides to portray these themes in a more direct and explicit manner. Both writers manage to bring this message of sacrifice in an artful manner. Both have portrayed theme of sacrifice in a very different style.
For Wilde, the swallow is an embodiment of compassion and sacrifice. He presents swallow in the light of a sacrificial character, as he prefers to stay with the statue as a servant of love, tenderness, passion and fairness. In the end, he grows old and withers away because of the weather, but remains by the side of the prince. Both the happy prince and the swallow sacrifice themselves in order to help the poor. The end of the story discloses how the sacrifice of both characters is rewarded by God.
O Henry brings out the theme of sacrifice through the characters of Della and Jim. Each of them sacrifices in order to find the most pleasing thing for their other-halves. Indeed, without revealing much of the detail, each of them picks that one present which they know the other really wants, sacrifices for it, and yet in the end learn that the present is not what they truly gave.
On the whole, it can be stated that both Wilde and O. henry picked the same themes but treated them in a very different manner. In order to deal with the subject of sacrifice, O. Henry has adopted a unique style. The abrupt beginning ‘One dollar and eighty-seven cents’ and surprise and shocking ending of the story heighten the impact of the theme. On the other hand, Wilde is more sophisticated in dealing with the subject.