The sum of one dollar and eighty-seven cents serves a symbolic role in the story. It is the meager amount of money that Della has been able to save from the household grocery allowance. She has the money earmarked to buy a Christmas gift for her husband, Jim. It has taken months to save it, and the sum symbolizes a few things: the couple's poverty, Della's frugality, and Della's love for Jim.
Della's hair and Jim's heirloom pocket watch are also symbols. Though both are prized possessions, neither means more to Della and Jim than the expression of love that each is determined to demonstrate to the other. Though there is pathos in the sacrifice that each makes, the sacrifice of these beloved objects is symbolic of the depth of the love that Della and Jim share.