What is the relationship between the main characters and The Magi?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The magi were three kings who traveled to bring gifts to the baby Jesus in the Biblical telling of his birth.  They sacrificed their time to travel a great distance to give their gifts.  In The Gift of the Magi, the two main characters sacrificed in order to give each other a gift.  The characters were similar to the three magi because of sacrifice and the desire to give a special gift.  

Della and Jim were husband and wife.  Jim had a treasured pocket watch, which had been passed down for generations until it became his.  He wore it on a worn leather strap because it was all he could afford.  Della had long, beautiful hair.  Both she and Jim admired her long locks.  Being very poor, Della and Jim could not afford to spend much on gifts for each other.  Della sold her hair to buy a platinum watch chain for Jim.  Jim sold his watch to buy combs for Della's hair.  This was their sacrifice.  At the end of the story, O. Henry compared them to the magi.