What is the summary of "The Last Leaf" by O. Henry?


Quick Answer

"The Last Leaf" is about a woman named Johnsy who falls ill with pneumonia in autumn and believes that she will die when she watches the last leaf fall. "The Last Leaf" is a short story written by O. Henry, and it was first published in 1907 in his collection of short stories titled "The Trimmed Lamp and Other Stories."

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Full Answer

The story starts with Johnsy and Sue moving in to Greenwich Village in New York City. The days start to get colder and autumn is pushing ahead with the browning of the leaves. Johnsy falls ill with pneumonia and becomes so weak that she believes that she is close to death. She watches the leaves from her bedroom fall and believes that when the last leaf falls from the vine she can see, she will pass on. Her friend Sue stays with her and tries to keep her more optimistic.

Their neighbor that lives below them, Mr. Behrman, was also an artist, but he scoffs at Johnsy's belief and goes to see her. That night, there is a bad storm, and with only one vine left on the vine, Sue closes the curtains and makes Johnsy rest. She is sure the leaf will fall that evening, but to her surprise, it is still there the next day. The leaf persists for days, and Johnsy starts to believe that the leaf stayed in order to show her how she sinned for wanting to die. Johnsy makes a recovery only days later.

The next day, Sue finds out that Mr. Behrman has pneumonia, too, and is likely to pass away soon. The last leaf on the vine was in fact Behrman's masterpiece, which he painted on the wall on the night of the storm while suffering so that Johnsy had the strength to survive.

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