What is the meaning of these lines from O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi"?

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction.

Henry, O. "The Gift of the Magi." 1906. Accessed 13 Apr 2024.

  • 6
    What part of the description are you having difficulty understanding?
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Apr 13 at 15:44

1 Answer 1


Jim is not waking from sleep. He is stunned to see that Della has cut her hair, and it takes him a moment to recover. When he does get over the initial shock, it is as if he wakes up from a trance. Then he takes Della into his arms ("enfolded" her). The narrator says that we should look away, directing our gaze to "some inconsequential object in the other direction," so that we do not watch like voyeurs as the young couple kiss. It's like old Bollywood movies where the camera cuts to a flower just as the hero embraces the heroine.

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