"The Gift of the Magi" centers around a young married couple, Della and Jim. They are the main characters of the short story. Della is warm and selfless, and Jim struggles to make ends meet for him and his wife with his low-paying job.
The story takes place on Christmas Eve, when both of them are struggling to purchase a perfect gift for the other one. Della discovers that she only has $1.87 with which to buy a gift for Jim. She finds a watch chain for his prized watch, a family heirloom, and decides to sell her hair, which is her prized possession, to pay for the watch.
Madame Sofronie, a minor character in the story, owns the hair shop and pays Della for her hair. Upon her return home, Della discovers that Jim has sold his watch to buy her tortoiseshell combs. The irony is that both Jim and Della sold their prized possession to pay for a gift that the other one can no longer use. It shows the love that they have for each other and their willingness to give up everything for the other. As the story concludes, Jim comforts Della and refuses to be upset by the loss of his watch. They have, after all, the greatest gift of all: true love.