Chapter Notes and Summary
The story ‘The Last Leaf’ highlights importance of hope and sacrifice in one’s life. In story, two friends Sue and Johnsy live together. Once Johnsy gets ill. Inspite of her friend she trying hard to cure her, Johnsy loses all hope and willingness to live. She develops a strange belief that she would die as soon as last leaf on ivy creeper outside her window falls. It is then their neighbour, Behrman, an artist by profession who brings back hope in Johnsy’s life. He paints a realistic leaf on ivy creeper and in doing so sacrifices his own life.
Sue and Johnsy
Sue and Johnsy were two young artists who lived together. They lived together in a small flat. It was located on third storey of an old house. Johnsy fell ill in November due to pneumonia. In her illness Johnsy would lie on bed without moving and used to look out of window. Johnsy’s behaviour worried Sue, so she called doctor.
The Doctor’s Visit
The doctor came everyday but there was no improvement in Johnsy’s health. One day, doctor informed Sue that Johnsy had lost her willingness to live. Therefore, without hope and willingness, no medicine would cure her. Since then, Sue tried to make Johnsy take an interest in things. She would talk about clothes and fashion, but nothing interested Johnsy. Sue even brought her drawing board into Johnsy’s room to complete her work.
Johnsy’s Strange Belief
One day, Sue noticed that Johnsy was looking out of window and counting backwards. Sue saw that Johnsy was looking at an old ivy creeper that was climbing brick wall opposite to their window. creeper was shedding its leaves due to strong winds. Sue was shocked when she came to know that Johnsy believed that she would die when last leaf of creeper would fall. Sue disregarded Johnsy’s belief. She told Johnsy to think positively and also requested her to not look at ivy creeper.
The Old Behrman
Sue had to paint an old miner, so she called Behrman to be her model. Behrman was a sixty year old painter who lived on ground floor of same house. Behrman was not a successful artist. He always had a dream of painting a masterpiece but was not successful in doing so. Sue told Behrman about Johnsy’s condition and belief. Later, Sue and Behrman went to Johnsy’s room and saw that, only one last leaf remained on creeper.
The Leaf does not Fall
Next morning, Johnsy saw that last leaf was still hanging on ivy creeper. She was surprised to see that even after strong winds and storm, leaf had not fallen. In fact, it looked green and healthy. She kept on looking leaf for hours. In evening also, when another storm passed, leaf died not fall. Looking at leaf, Johnsy realised her mistake. She called Sue and apologised to her for losing hope. Even doctor now told Sue that Johnsy would get cured soon. He also informed Sue that Behrman was suffering from pneumonia and would die soon.
Behrman’s Masterpiece and Sacrifice
Next morning, Sue informed Johnsy that Behrman had died of pneumonia and he had been ill only for two days. Janitor (a person who is a caretaker or doorkeeper of a building) found Behrman on his bed and his clothes and shoes were wet.When Sue and Johnsy went to see Behrman, they found a ladder and a lantern near his bed. There were also same brushes and green and yellow paints on floor. Sue had realised what happened to Behrman and told Johnsy that last leaf was infact a painted leaf. It was painted by Behrman in stormy night when real leaf had fallen off. He had painted his masterpiece and had sacrificed his own life to save Johnsy.
Chapter Notes and Summary