Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Last Leaf

‘The Last Leaf’ can easily be called O Henry’s masterpiece. Two girls–Sue  and Johnsy, both painters share a studio. Johnsy gets afflicted with illness and despite the doctor’s best efforts, does not show any improvement in her condition. The doctor has almost given up on her saying that she herself does not want to get well and recover , and rightly so. Bed ridden as she is, she keeps looking at an ivy creeper visible through the window and keeps counting the number of leaves left on it , it being the Autumn season. Mysteriously , she thinks that with the dropping of each leaf, her life is nearing its end. Sue wants to drive her away from this foolish thought , but it is of no use . Behrman, an old painter, past sixty, and a failed artist, who still harbours dreams of painting a masterpiece one day, also has a studio in the same building and manages to earn a little by modelling for the young artists. Sue approaches him for a similar assignment and incidentally shares her concern regarding Johnsy ‘s deteriorating condition. For once dismissing Johnsy’s foolish idea of associating her life with the Ivy leaves, he also gets serious and during a stormy night when the last leaf has also fallen, paints a leaf on the wall at the same place where the last leaf hung. Unmindful of this, seeing that the ‘ last leaf ‘ has not fallen and is still there, Johnsy regains her desire to live and shows visible signs of improvement . Only later , when told that Behrman has died of Pneumonia , do they come to know that ‘the last leaf’ which had survived the winds and the storm was actually a painting done by him during that stormy night , so that Johnsy won’t give in and somehow get over her illness and recover. ‘The last leaf ‘ painted by Berhman was certainly his masterpiece that had saved Johnsy’s life .

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