The Last Leaf Summary

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andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This beautifully inspirational tale deals with unselfish sacrifice - how one man was prepared to sacrifice his own well-being and use his talent to save the life of another.

Two artists, Johanna (Johnsy) and Sue share an apartment in an artists' community which is soon invaded by a malicious disease which spreads its deadly influence, mowing down many members in this struggling but auspicious society. Johnsy is infected and soon gives up hope for survival. She pins her destiny to the survival of one last leaf on a vine which she perceives through her window whilst lying in bed.

The attending physician informs Sue that Johnsy's chance for survival is limited unless she has something to hope for. Sue informs Mr Behrman, an old fellow artist, who is their downstairs-neighbour, about this and he is annoyed that Johnsy has such little hope. He is aware of her wish to die when the last leaf falls.

The next morning, after a vicious storm, Johnsy sees the last remaining leaf still clinging to life. She decides that she wants to continue living: there must be a reason that the leaf has refused to die, and it is a sin to want to die. Johnsy recovers from her illness.

Sue informs her some time later that Mr Behrman had died of pneumonia and the medics had found a burning lamp, a ladder and a palette containing a mixture of colours similar to that of a leaf, next to his completely wet, collapsed body. He had contracted pneumonia and expired due to his frail condition.

It becomes pertinently clear that Mr Behrman had finally painted his long-promised masterpiece - the leaf which saved Johnsy's life, sacrificing his in the process.  

mlsldy3's profile pic

mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Two painters, Johnsy and Sue live together in Greenwich Village. They young painters and work hard on their paintings. With winter quickly approaching, Johnsy get pneumonia and becomes very ill. She thinks she is dying. She looks out her window and decides that when the last leaf falls from the vine growing, she will die.

Behrman is an old man who lives in the apartment building with Johnsy and Sue. He hears about what has happened to Johnsy and decides to help. He is a gruff man, and no one thinks much about him. He hasn't worked on his own painting in over 40 years, but paints a vine with a leaf on it. He puts it out side of Johnsy's window and she sees the leaf is still there. Behrman catches pneumonia and dies shortly after finishing his painting. The leaf that he has painted saves Johnsy's life.

The entire story deals with the idea of how we treat other people. We are so quick to judge other people, that we never take the time to really look inside someone. That is fault that we all need to get over, and we might just see someone who is lonely and in need of care.

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kimfuji's profile pic

kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Two women live in Greenwich Villlage and decide to share a studio apartment. Pneumonia is threatening their artist colony.Johnsy is near death and lying in bed. She's waiting for the last leaf to fall off of an ivy vine. She can see it through her window.

Johnsy says,"I’m tired of thinking," "I want to turn loose my hold on everything, and go sailing down, down, just like one of those poor, tired leaves".

The man who lives in the apt. below ends up helping her. Mr. Behrman is his name. He's a painter but hasn't worked on his own painting in 40 years. This Mr. Behrman is the typical OHenry hero. The last day before he dies he makes a painting and puts it outside her window.This is it : "some scattered brushes, and a palette with green and yellow colors mixed on it . . . it’s Behrman’s masterpiece--he painted it [a leaf] there the night that the last leaf fell"(19), Sue tells Johnsy.

akumarloco's profile pic

akumarloco | Student, Grade 7 | eNotes Newbie

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In the village of greenwich  there lived two artists named Joanna and Sue.they shared an apartment , they worked hard on their paintings . It was the end of autumn and winter started . As winter was approaching many people in the caused pneumonia , Joanna also was affected by pneumonia.She decided that she will die when the last leaf of the vine  near her window falls.The physician said that only we can only hope to sue .

Another artist named Behrman who is their partner in their apartment knows what happened. He tried to help Joanna for that he decided to make a painting for her.Nobody thinks much about him.

He has not worked on his own painting for 40 years but he paints a vine and a leaf on it for her . he puts the painting he made just outside the window of  Joanna's room.She sees the leaf is still there.

              Soon Behrman is affected by pneumonia and he dies after completing the painting made for Joanna.The leaf that Behrman painted saves Joanna's life.

 It suggest that how we can help other people,like Behrman there will be only a few to help others not caring the self. its the duty of us to help other people in our world and save our future planet................

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