The Gift of the Magi Comprehension

Gift of the Magi Comprehension Questions

Get The Gift of the Magi Unit over four blog posts. This second post The Gift of the Magi Comprehension Questions includes 16 questions from recalling details to sequencing to story elements. The story is also included in this download.

The Gift of the Magi is a heartwarming story of a young married couple who sell their most prized possessions to have money to buy gifts for each other. It makes a wonderful mini-unit to teach during the Christmas season.

Not only is the message a good one, but the book lends itself to covering several CCSS skills. The original story measures 6.1-grade equivalent; however, it is a little challenging for sixth graders with its Lexile rating of 940. Due to this, I have also included a simplified version that measures a 4.9-grade equivalent. Two versions of the story make this a perfect unit for differentiated instruction.

Get the printable questions and answer keys from this post here.

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The Gift of the Magi Comprehension Questions

Part 1

  1. Which three phrases best summarize The Gift of the Magi?
    1. extremely poor, perfect gift, comb and chain
    2. sell hair to buy watch chain, sell watch to buy combs, sacrifice makes gifts useless
    3. wise gifts, surprise, irony
    4. Della’s combs, Jim’s watch chain, eat supper
  2. The Gift of the Magi fits into which of the following genres? Check one from each row.
?            vs.          ?
____ Fantasy ____ Realistic Fiction
____ Fiction ____ Nonfiction
____ Drama ____ Literature
____ Parable ____ Fairy Tale
____ Classic ____ Modern Story

3. The Gift of the Magi is told from which point of view?

        1. 1st
        2. 2nd
        3. 3rd from Della’s perspective
        4. 3rd from Jim’s perspective

4. Which plot device does O. Henry use in The Gift of the Magi?

        1. cliffhanger
        2. twist ending
        3. flashback
        4. flash forward

5. Write a list of examples explaining how the author showed Della and Jim were poor.

Part 2

6. The tone of the story can best be describes as —.

      1. a well-meaning narrator who conveys a lesson
      2. a neutral observer relaying the facts
      3. a dear friend gossiping
      4. a preachy sermon

7. Read this passage from the story.

Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. 

The author used alliteration to —-.

      1. give the story a poetic feeling
      2. emphasize the emotions felt by Della
      3. show wisdom
      4. get away from overly long sentences

8. Sequence the following events by numbering them in the correct order.

______ Jim comes home and stares at Della’s missing hair.

______  After going to the mirror, Della lets her hair down to study it.

______  Della bundles up and heads out in the cold.

______ Della fixes her hair then prepares dinner.

______ At the shop, Della buys a watch chain.

______ Jim gives Della her present.

______ Della cries because the next day is Christmas and she doesn’t have enough money to buy Jim a present.

______ Jim recommends they put away their gifts and have dinner.

______ Della sells her hair of $20.00.

______ Della counts her money.

9. How would the story be different if it were told from Jim’s perspective?

10. What is the most likely reason the author broke grammar rules such as using incomplete sentences?

The author wanted to —-.

      1. make the story easier to read for a younger audience.
      2. be more easily broken down into individual parts for a clearer understanding.
      3. make the story come across as someone is orally telling the reader a story.
      4. keep the reader on edge so that the story is suspenseful

Part 3

11. What do the Queen of Sheba, King Solomon, and the Three Wise Men have in common?

12. Why did the author compare Della and Jim to the Magi?

13. The setting is important to the story because—.

        1. Based on tools used, the reader knows the story takes place in the first decade of the 20th
        2. The story takes place in a city where you often see apartments.
        3. The story takes place on Christmas Eve in a small unassuming apartment.
        4. Everything is gray in color: the cat, the fence, and the backyard to show the emotions.

14. Which word best describes Madame Sofronie?

      1. warm and caring
      2. indirect and aloof
      3. all business (to-the-point)
      4. friendly and concerned

15. Summarize the story writing a “somebody wanted but so” statement from Della’s perspective and again from Jim’s perspective.

16. List events that took place in three’s. Why did the author most likely use “3” in the story?

Get the printable questions and answer keys from this post here.


The Gift of the Magi Blog Posts

The posts will include:


I hope your students will enjoy this unit.

The Gift of the Magi ~ Free Lesson Plans ~ Part 2 Comprehension


Click here to download The Gift of the Magi comprehension questions.



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