Summary of O. Henry’s The Last Leaf

The Last Leaf is a famous story by the renowned writer O. Henry. This story describes the friendship of two female artists Sue and Johnsy and a great sacrifice by an old person named Behrman.


Sue and Johnsy were two young artists. They lived together in a small flat situated on the third storey of an old house. Johnsy fell seriously ill with pneumonia in November. Sue was worried and sent for the doctor. He told Sue that Johnsy had lost the will to live. Medicines would not help her.

Sue tried her best to make Johnsy take interest in things around her. She talked about clothes, fashion and brought her drawing board into Johnsy’s room and started painting. She also whistled while painting.

Johnsy looked at an ivy creeper outside on the wall shedding its leaves. She started counting backwards from twelve. Sue asked what it was all about. Johnsy said that she would die with the falling of the last leaf. Sue told her that was all nonsense. But it had no effect on Johnsy.

Behrman, an old painter, lived on the ground floor. He had a dream that he would one day paint a masterpiece. Sue told Behrman about Johnsy’s strange fancy. Both he and Sue went to Johnsy’s room while she was sleeping. They saw the ivy creeper had only one leaf left on it. It was raining and seemed that the last leaf would fall anytime.

Johnsy awoke from her sleep and saw the last leaf. It was green and healthy. Johnsy looked at it every hour but it didn’t fall even in the stormy evening. This revived Johnsy’s will to live.

Johnsy admitted that she was a wicked girl. The last leaf had shown her that. It was a sin to want to die. She asked for a mirror and had lots of hot soup.

The next morning Sue told Johnsy about Behrman. He had been ill for only two days. The guard found him on his bed. His clothes and shoes were wet. He had been shivering in the stormy night. He had painted that last leaf on the wall that night. He caught pneumonia and died. The last leaf was his masterpiece. He painted it the night the last leaf fell.

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