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THE LAST LEAF
By – 0. Henry
Short and Simple Summary of the lesson in English– THE LAST LEAF / Summary in simple Words/ Critical appreciation of the lesson – THE LAST LEAF
‘The Last Lear is a touching story. It describes the sacrifice made by an old painter named Rebuttal). He sacrificed his life to save a young girl-artist’s life.
Greenwich Village was situated in the west of Washington Square. This village became a colony of artists. Here two young girls, Sue and Johnsy also lived. They had set up a joint studio on the top floor of a three-storeyed old building. These girls came from different places. But once they had met and become friends. Now they lived like sisters.
In the month of November, pneumonia attacked the artist’s colony. A number of people died. Johnsy also fell ill with pneumonia. Sue tried her best to nurse Johnsy. Rut her condition worsened. She became very weak. The doctor told Suc that Johnsy’s chances of recovery were very few. She had lost the will to live. He advised Sue to make Johnsy take interest in life. Only then she could be saved.
There was an ivy creeper on the back wall of the next house. In the cold stormy, wind, its leaves were falling. Johnsy developed a fancy that she would also die when the last leaf of this creeper fell down. Sue came to know of this fancy of Johnsy. She told Johnsy that there was no link between the last leaf and her life. But Johnsy did not listen to her. She said that there were twelve leaves left on the creeper. These were falling fast and she would die when the last one fell. She said that she expected that all leaves would fall in the night. Then she fell asleep.
After Johnsy had fallen asleep, Sue went downstairs to meet Behrman, an old painter. He was past sixty but was a failure in art. He was always talking about the masterpiece which be was going tcfpaint. But he had never started it. He was a drunkard. He earned a little through his paintings. Sue told Behrman about Johnsy s fancy. Behrman decided to help her.
That night it was raining and snowing heavily. Old Behrman took a ladder and a few colours and went out. He found that all the leaves of the creeper had fallen. But he painted a leaf on the wall.
Next morning, when Johnsy got up, she looked out of the window. She was surprised to find that the last leaf was still there. She knew that fierce winds had blown during the night. Still, the leaf was there. She realised that it was a sin to wish to die. Her will to live returned. She started recovering. The next day, the doctor said that she was out of danger.
That afternoon, they came to know that old Behrman had died. Sue told Johnsy that he had painted the leaf on the wall when the last leaf fell. He had gone out in snow and rain in order to paint the leaf. He had caught pneumonia and died. This leaf was, in fact, his masterpiece.
Sue and Johnsy, two young friends and artists shared a small flat that was on the third storey of an old house.
It was the month of November when Johnsy fell seriously ill. She was afflicted by pneumonia. She simply lay in her bed and looked out of the window. This left her friend Sue worried, so she called a doctor. The doctor visited every day but Johnsy’s condition did not show any improvement. One day the doctor told Sue that perhaps Johnsy was depressed and in the absence of her will to live, no medicine could cure her.
Johnsy was Sue’s dear friend. So, she made sincere efforts to revive Johnsy’s interest in life by talking about clothes and fashion. Sadly, nothing worked. Then Sue brought her drawing board to Johnsy’s room and started painting. She whistled while working so that Johnsy’s mind could be taken off her illness.
Suddenly, Sue heard Johnsy whispering. She rushed to her bed and heard that Johnsy was counting backwards while looking out of the window. An anxious Sue looked out too and saw an old ivy creeper climbing half-way up the brick wall opposite their window. The strong autumn wind was blowing outside and the creeper was shedding its leaves.
Sue asked Johnsy what she was counting. Johnsy replied that she was counting the leaves on the creeper which were almost a hundred till three days ago but now only five were left. Sue said falling of leaves was normal since it was autumn. However, Johnsy revealed her shocking fear that when the last leaf fell, she too would die. Sue rubbished this idea and said that old ivy leaves had nothing to do with Johnsy’s illness. But, Johnsy insisted that she wanted to see the last leaf fall before it got dark and then sleep forever.
Sue comforted Johnsy and begged her not to look out of the window while she used the incoming light to finish a painting that would get the money. Johnsy agreed on the condition that Sue would finish her painting soon and not make her wait further to see the fall of the last leaf. Sue then told Johnsy that she had to paint an old miner and was going down to call Behrman, their neighbour, to be her model. Behrman lived on the ground floor in the same building. He was a sixty-year-old painter who had a lifelong dream to paint a masterpiece. Sue shared her worry with Behrman and told how Johnsy was convinced about her death with the fall of the last leaf.
Behrman accompanied Sue to her apartment and the two of them walked silently into Johnsy’s room. She was sleeping at that time, so the two of them went to the next room and peeped out through the window. The creeper had only one leaf on it. It was raining heavily and the icy-cold wind was blowing. Behrman returned without saying anything,
Next morning, Johnsy woke up and asked Sue in a feeble voice to draw the curtains. A nervous Sue reluctantly drew back the curtains but exclaimed when she looked at the creeper. She pointed out to Johnsy that there was still one leaf left and it looked quite green and healthy. Johnsy said that she had heard the wind last night and was sure that the leaf must have fallen. If it hadn’t so far, then it would surely fall soon and she too would die. Sue tried to cheer her up and asserted that she won’t die and she must live for the sake of her friends.
Johnsy smiled- weakly and closed her eyes. She looked out of the window after every hour and every time found the leaf still there. Another storm struck in the evening but the leaf did not fall. Johnsy looked at the leaf for a long time and then called Sue. She admitted that she had not been good to her. Sue had looked after her so lovingly and she, in turn, had not cooperated. The last leaf had shown her that she had been wicked. She had realised that it was a sin to wish to die. Sue hugged Johnsy and then gave her lots of hot soup and a mirror. Johnsy combed her hair and smiled brightly. The doctor came in the afternoon and after examining Johnsy told Sue that since Johnsy now had the will to live, he was confident of her early recovery. Then he took leave to go downstairs and examine Behrman who too was suffering from acute pneumonia.
The next morning Sue came and sat on Johnsy’s bed and informed her that Mr Behrman was no more. He had died of pneumonia that morning after a brief illness of only two days. He was found in his bed with wet clothes and shoes by the janitor. A ladder and a still lighted lantern were found near his bed. There were also some brushes and green and yellow paints near the ladder. Sue told Johnsy to look out of the window at the ivy leaf. She asked if she wondered why it didn’t flutter when the wind blew.
The green and healthy leaf was Behrman’s masterpiece that he had painted the previous night braving the icy winds and rain.
‘’The Last Leaf” is a story of supreme sacrifice by an old artist. The old artist, Behrman paints to keep someone’s hopes and will power up. He dies for this good cause. His sacrifice also fulfils his ambition of creating a masterpiece.
Johnsy and Sue were two young artists. They shared a small room on the third floor of an old house. Johnsy fell ill in November. She had pneumonia. Sue sent for a doctor. The doctor declared that Johnsy had lost the will to live. No medicine could help her. Johnsy had linked her life with the last leaf of the creeper. She began to think that she would die with the fall of the last leaf. Her condition deteriorated each day. Being worried, Sue wanted to help her. She tried her best to revive Johnsy’s interest in life but failed. Sue told this problem to Behrman, who was not a successful artist. He always desired for painting a masterpiece. When he learnt about the fanciful idea of Johnsy, he decided something and went out in the rain. He painted a true painting of the last green leaf. It did not fall in the rainstorm. It looked so real that it made Johnsy believe that neither it nor her life would end. She improved and regained faith in her life. Sue told Johnsy all about Behrman who sacrificed his life for saving her. Behrman died of pneumonia. He made a supreme sacrifice.