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Promote active engagement with ironic fiction, support the development of close reading analysis skills for high school, and evaluate general reading comprehension with this bundle of resources for teaching the short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. Included are the following: a plot-based, multiple choice quiz and a self-grading Easel Assessment version; an alternate short answer quiz; a worksheet composed of rigorous close reading questions; the public domain narrative; and answer keys. Materials are delivered in printable Word Document and PDF formats. 

By completing the quiz, students will demonstrate knowledge of the following:

  • The protagonist’s financial struggles
  • The narrator’s commentary on the nature of life
  • Jim’s income reduction
  • Della’s intentions with the money she has
  • The characters’ most prized possessions
  • Madame Sofronie’s role in the story
  • Della’s emotional state as she shops
  • Della’s purchase for Jim
  • Della’s habit
  • Jim’s reaction to receiving Della’s gift
  • Jim’s purchase for Della
  • Parallels between the characters and the magi
  • Situational irony (irony of result)

By completing the close reading analysis worksheet, students will:

  • Identify what the text states explicitly as well as implicitly
  • Examine how complex characters think, behave, interact, and develop
  • Infer the protagonist’s motivation to find the right gift for her husband
  • Explore nuances in words with similar meanings
  • Define complex words as they are used in the text
  • Apply knowledge of various literary devices including onomatopoeia, hyperbole, and eye dialect
  • Articulate the intended effect of repetition in the context of the exposition
  • Explain the significance of the color brown in the context of a given excerpt
  • Explore the significance of the number forty in the context of the story
  • Conduct brief online research in order to answer questions as needed
  • Make logical inferences about the author’s intent
  • Explore how third person limited point of view contributes to plot development
  • Examine the narrator’s tone in the context of a given excerpt
  • Explain how a particular phrase is an example of paradox (“repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love”)
  • Choose a relevant theme in the context of a given excerpt
  • Argue whether the author’s stylistic choice to capitalize a common noun (Combs) is acceptable
  • Identify and explain several examples of sexist stereotypes throughout the story
  • Identify and explain an example of foreshadowing
  • Write clearly, concisely, and accurately in response to analytical questioning
  • Cite textual evidence in support of claims