The Gift of the Magi

Jim’s gold watch Symbol Analysis

Jim’s gold watch Symbol Icon
Jim’s watch holds sentimental value for him as well, having been passed down from generation to generation. In this way, the watch represents Jim’s ties to the family he grew up in—the family he leaves in order to make a new family with Della. The watch also more conventionally represents time, which Jim gives to Della in the form of the hours he works to support the household and the hours he spends at home afterwards. As the narrator mentions towards the story’s end, Jim is never late returning from his job. The gold in the watch can also symbolize several things, including purity, money (which the couple lacks), inner value, and permanence.

Jim’s gold watch Quotes in The Gift of the Magi

The The Gift of the Magi quotes below all refer to the symbol of Jim’s gold watch. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Value Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Doubleday, Page and Company edition of The Gift of the Magi published in 1906.
The Gift of the Magi Quotes

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

Related Characters: Della, Jim
Related Symbols: Della’s hair, Jim’s gold watch
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both.

Related Characters: Della, Jim
Related Symbols: Jim’s gold watch
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cill

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

Related Characters: Della (speaker), Della, Jim
Related Symbols: Della’s hair, Jim’s gold watch
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Jim’s gold watch Symbol Timeline in The Gift of the Magi

The timeline below shows where the symbol Jim’s gold watch appears in The Gift of the Magi. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Gift of the Magi
Value Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Beauty Theme Icon
...most prized possessions: Della’s long, brown hair that falls below her knees and Jim’s gold watch that was passed down from his grandfather. He compares these items to King Solomon’s treasures... (full context)
Value Theme Icon
Beauty Theme Icon
...a perfect present for Jim. She decides finally on a simple platinum chain for Jim’s watch, comparing the watch’s lack of ornamentation and value to Jim’s personality, which is equally quiet... (full context)
Value Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Beauty Theme Icon
...Jim comforts her before she remembers her own present to Jim. She pulls out the watch chain and asks to see Jim’s watch so that she might try the chain on... (full context)
Value Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Sacrifice Theme Icon
...now and that they’re too nice to use just yet—before admitting that he sold the watch to buy the combs for Della. They decide to have dinner, and the narrator sums... (full context)