“The Last Leaf” Summary and Study Guide

A Short Story By O’ Henry


Death and Dying:

Last leaf is a short story that entails the treasury of life and the existence of faith and hope. It need to the importance of living and how we deal with the hindrances we battle through our life story. It is a moving story across the traps that come across us in the most significant parts of our lives, the value of life is the centerpiece of story, where all the things go back and revolve…Apart of this story gives us a hint that God is the only one who knows that whether we ride on with life and chances or trail on and be drawn against the judgment, the melodramatic and picturesque setting of the story connects to the negative status of main character facing life and death subject matter.


Johnsy the main character seems to be a very pessimistic person. She has lost the entire positive attitude in life due to her disease and she is waiting for her death.

“Your little lady has made up her mind that she’s not going to get well. Has she anything on her mind”

That is the first step of Jhonsy that she has made up her mind that she will die when the last leaf fall. That signifies the mental and psychological conditionn of her and is describing the theme of pessimistic.

“She was looking out of window and counting -counting backwards”

The psychological disturbances shown by O’ Henry in these lines as she is tired of waiting that when the last leaf falls, she will be near to death.

“When the last one falls I must go, too.”

Here in these lines Henry has showed extreme pessimism.

It is the last one, said Johnsy “I thought it would surely fall during the night. I heard the wind. It will fall today, and I shall die at the same time.”

These words literated by jonsy again show her desperate and chaotic state of mind. She has supposed the things which have no logic and waiting for her death, or waiting for the last leaf to fall.


Mr. Behrman risks his life for Johnsy. He has sacrificed his own life, to give life to Johnsy the painting he made at the wall, shows his self sacrificing, kind and noble nature.

He himself catches the pneumonia and dies, but he didn’t let Johnsy to die.

With the character of Mr. Buhrmann, O’ Henry is showing the sacrificing mature of a man and it gives us a message that self sacrificing is a great deed and one has to  kind and gentle towards others. “Mr. Buhrmann died of pneumonia today in hospital.”


Theme of hope is very nicely presented in this story. Doctor is a very optimistic person and he tries to make Johnsy realized that is she has made her mind that she will die when the last leaf fall that could be harmful for her. He told her that he can only provide her medicine and that is effective as 50 cent, the next situation is in her hand.

“I subtract 50 percent from the curative power of medicines.”

If you will get her to ask one question about the new writer styles in cloak sleeves I will promise you one-in-five chance for her, instead of”

So O’ Henry conveys message one never let go for hope and optimist approach in life. It is out state of mind which can bring worse or better for us in our lives

“Sadie, someday I hope to point the bay of Naples”

These lines show Johnsy’s desires and aspirations. It gives the picture of hope and this hope in life gives us the spirit of living in this world.

Love and Friendship:

In last leaf O’ Henry describes friendship and bondage between two friends. They care and love each other, and she supports Johnsy morally when she falls ill. She proves to be great support for Johnsy and she tries her level best to bring back Johnsy towards life and in the world of optimism.

“Dear, Dear!” said she, learning her won face down to the pillow ” think of me, if you won’t think of yourself. What would I do?”

These lines show the effective relationship between two friends. Mr. Behrman also shows great deal of love for these girls. Although he is bit careless person but he really cared for Johnsy and his love is shown by his painting for the sake of Johnsy’s life.

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