What is the exposition, complication, falling action and resolution of "The Last Leaf " by O Henry?

1 Answer | Add Yours

mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In the exposition (or beginning of the story that gives some background information and sets things up), O.Henry describes the section of town called Greenwich village, and describes the various artists and free-thinkers that inhabit it.  Among those are Sue and Johnsy, female roommates that share a loft together, and are aspiring artists.

There are several points of complication, or rising action.  The first is that O. Henry mentions that pnemonia has struck the village.  The second is that Johnsy gets it, and the third is that the doctor has not much hope for her.  Lastly, Johnsy declares that as soon as the last leaf falls off the ivy outside her window, she will too "go away." 

This leads to the climax, where that night Sue and their unique and surly neighbor Behrman, wait the night, to see if Johnsy passes.  Sue opens the window the next morning to find the leaf there. 

The falling action is that the leaf stays there, and Johnsy gets better. 

The resolution is when Sue tells Johnsy that the leaf wasn't real, that Behrman painted it, and subsequently died from pnemonia himself.  I provided a link to the story below; it isn't very long, and it's a good one.  I hope this helps!

We’ve answered 317,418 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question