Did you know that “The Last Leaf” and “The Gift of the Magi” are both written by the author O. Henry? They both have different storylines, characters, underlying themes, etc, they share some similarities too. As this essay goes on, these two stories will show how similar they are but also explain what their differences are as well. These two stories by O. Henry show that even if they have different storylines, they are similar in the sense that they carry O Henry’s trademark including poor, working-class, character, a humorous tone, realistic detail, and a surprise and twist ending but also differentiating in underlying themes, relationships and which sacrifice is greater.
Let’s start with the similarities. Talking about “The Last Leaf” and “The Gift of the Magi”, they both have themes of sacrifices. In “The Last Leaf” and “The Gift of the Magi”, the characters in each story have traits of love, sympathy, sacrifice and reciprocation for each other. O. Henry also displays humor in both stories like for example, In “The Gift of the Magi”, Della has a funny way of talking explaining her finances, “One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies….Pennies saved one and two and time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man…” In “The Last Leaf” humor is shown as “Your little lady has made up her mind that she’s not going to get well. Has she anything on her mind?….. Has she anything on her mind worth thinking about the twice-a man for instance?” Finally, both stories at the end on a positive note. In “The Gift of the Magi” the couple realizes that their love is the best gift of all and in “The Last Leaf”, Behrman sacrifices his life so Johnsy can be cured. In conclusion, these two short stories are the same in many ways, but they are also different in many ways too.
Although both stories have many similarities to count, there are differences as well. Starting with the overall themes. These two stories have central themes of sacrifice, one story is tiny and the other is kind of momentous. In “The Gift of the Magi”, Della sacrifices her physical beauty (cutting her hair) so she can buy a good enough gift for her lover, Jim. In “The Last Leaf”, Behrman sacrifices his LIFE so Johnsy can recover from pneumonia (painting the leaf on the tree). Another difference is the minor underlying themes. “The Last Leaf” has the underlying theme of look aren’t everything. A quote supporting this is, He walked around touching one person here and another there with his icy fingers“. This quote symbolizes Behrman can be icy and careless but in the end, gives up his life for Johnsy’s. On the other hand, ” The Gift of the Magi” has also an underlying meaning of money does not buy happiness, love, etc. A quote supporting this is, “…of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house”. This quote explains how they wasted their sacrifices for giving gifts when the most important gift of all is their undying and unconditional love for each other. Finally, the relationships in each story are different. In “The Gift of the Magi”, Della and Jim are married. Quotes like, “I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less” and “But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della, which is all very good”.
On the contrary, in “The Last Leaf”, Sue and Joanna or “Johnsy” are best friends. Quotes like, “There they discovered that they liked the same kind of art, the same kind of food, and the same kind of clothes” and “Dear, dear!” said Sue, leaning her worn face down to the pillow, “Think of me, if you won’t think of yourself. What would I do?” But Johnsy did not answer “…..The fancy seemed to possess her more strongly as one by one the ties that bound her to friendship and earth were loosed”. Concluding, looking deeper into both stories, we can see how there as many differences as similarities.
Overall, both “The Last Leaf” and “The Gift of the Magi” contain many great similarities. Similarities like themes of sacrifices and irony to having tones of humor. These two stories by O. Henry show that even if they have different storylines, they are similar in the sense that they carry O Henry’s trademark including poor, working-class, character, a humorous tone, realistic detail, and a surprise and twist ending but also differentiating in underlying themes, relationships and which sacrifice is greater.