What are two symbols in "The Gift of the Magi"?

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two symbols in this story are the gifts they buy each other for Christmas: the combs and the chain. Each signifies the aspect of the spouse that means a lot to their spouse. For Della, she loves her hair, it is also something Jim loves about her. For Jim, he really enjoys his watch. In order to get each other gifts, they both end up selling their prized possessions that the other is purchasing a gift to compliment. So Della gets her hair cut and sells it, now having no need for combs. Jim sells his watch, having no need for a chain. These symbols in fact produce an incredible irony which causes the reader to explore the theme of materialism. It makes the reading audience wonder what material items are actually worth. The combs, in their great beauty are now worthless to Della. The chain for the watch has no worth to Jim until he gets a new watch. The illustration through this symbols of sacrifice also is displayed.