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‘The Last Leaf’ is a famous story of O. Henry. It is a sentimental story. Sue and Johnsy were two young artistic friends. They lived together. Once Johnsy fell ill. There was an ivy creeper outside the window. Its leaves were falling. Johnsy had a fancy that she would die when the last leaf on the ivy fell. She was worried. An old painter named Behrman lived downstairs. He considered the girls like his daughters. Sue told ofJohnsy’s fancy to Bohrman. He promised to help her. That night it was snowing. The last leaf also fell. But Behanan worked all night and painted a leaf on the wall. Next morning Johnsy was surprised to see that there was still a leaf on the ivy. Her will to live returned. Soon she recovered. But old Behrman caught pneumonia and died. Thus he sacrificed his own life in order to save Johnsy.
Art is a valuable asset and offers hope even in the most trying situations. It has the power to heal the human spirit. “The Last Leaf” depicts the value of art as it saves a precious young life. Although the artist sacrifices his own life in the process, his masterpiece immortalizes him.
The story is based on the theme that life is precious and faith and hope should never be lost. We come across many hindrances in life and they should be overcome by fighting back in high spirits. Depression can lead to disaster even when the situation is not bad. Another theme that runs through the story is that devoted friendship can be succour during times of crisis. A minor theme of the story is the importance of art in human lives. The old painter knowingly sacrifices his life in his urge to create a masterpiece.
Very often, we find people having a negative attitude toward life. They lose interest in life and these causes suffering to people surrounding them. They are even ready to lose their life as life has lost all meaning for them. The story tells the need to have a positive attitude towards life so that we can make it as fruitful as possible. Sacrificing our life for the sake of others is also a theme in this story. Painter Behrman scarifies his life for Johnsy.
The title “The Last Leaf” raises the curiosity of the reader regarding a happening or an event towards some kind of ‘end’. The word ‘last’ reflects the main idea of the story which is the last breath of Johnsy. The last leaf becomes the last hope of survival and keeps the reader hooked until the end. Throughout, the last ivy leaf remains the central point. In the early part of the story it remains associated with Johnsy’s ailment and depression while later on, it conveys the message of courage, hope and optimism. The last leaf saves Johnsy’s life and fulfils Behrman’s lifelong dream to paint a masterpiece. However, it also turns out to be his last masterpiece, too. Hence the title is very apt.
Justification of the Title
The leaves of the ivy creeper are falling fast. Johnsy, the sick girl, feels that she would die as soon as the last leaf would fall from the ivy creeper. One night, only one leaf remains on the ivy. It would fall the same night. The old artist, Behrman, decides to go out in the rain and paint an artificial leaf as soon as the last leaf fall. So, since Johnsy makes her life depends upon the last leaf, the title is appropriate. The last leaf on the ivy helps one person to survive but results in the death of another person.
Artist—a person who creates art, especially paintings or drawing; Storey—floor; Seriously—badly; Pneumonia—a lung infection causing illness; Worry—concern; Condition—position; Respond—to reply; Whisper—murmur, speak very softly using one’s breath; Anxiously—eagerly; Ivy—a climbing plant; Creeper—a plant that grows up trees or walls or along the ground; Autumn—a season when leaves fall; Finality—determination; Nonsense—ridiculous or not true; Forever—for all time; Curtain—a piece of material to cover a window, etc.; Beg—make an earnest request; Peacefully—calmly; Miner—a person who works in a mine; Masterpiece—best work; Stupid—fool; Complain—speak out against something; Refuse—to deny; Tiptoe—to walk using front parts of the feet without making noise; Heavily—very much; Icy-cold—chilling; Feeble—weak; Reluctantly—unwillingly; Fierce—very fast; Surely—undoubtedly; Energetically—full of excitement; Seem—to appear; Cooperate—to work together; Depressed—very sad; Gloomy—sad; Hug—to embrace; Recover—get well; Janitor—watchman; Shiver—to tremble; Wonder—surprise; Flutter—to move.
Autumn = the third season of the year, शरद ऋतु; ivy creeper = that which creeps, सिरपेंचे की लता; storey = in one floor, मंजिल; pneumonia =inflammation of one or both the lungs. = एक बीमारी; gazing out = to look steadily at,टकटकी लगाकर देखना; respond = to make answer to, उत्तर देना; whisper = to speak in a very low tone, फुसफुसाहट; anxiously = troubled, चिंतित Finality = the state of being final, अंतिम स्थिति ; nonsense = absurd ,मूर्खता ; confident = in a confident manner , आश्वस्त ; bowl = cup ,कटोरा ; forever = till death ,सदा के लिए ; curtain = a suspended screen, पर्दा Begged = asked humbly, प्रार्थना की ; miner = one who works in a mine,खान में काम करने वाला; model = a representation, प्रतिमा ; rushed down = swiftly went down,वेगपूर्वक नीचे जाना ; masterpiece= a piece of the highest workmanship, अति उत्तम रचना; remained = continued, रह जाना; tiptoed = on the tips of toes,पैर की अंगुलियों के अग्रभाग पर; peeked out = squeaked, झांकना ; feeble = weak, दुर्बल ; reluctantly = unwillingly, अनिच्छा से Storm = a violent tempest,प्रचंड वायु; fierce = violent, भयंकर; energetically = with energy, कर्मठता से ; clinging = sticking ,चिपकना ; depressed = dejected, खिन्नचित ; gloomy = dusky, अंधकारमय ; hugged = to embrace closely,आलिंगन करना ; soup = a liquid food prepared from flesh, fish or vegetables, शोरबा ; combed = dressed hair,कंघी की ; janitor = a doorkeeper, द्वारपाल ; shivering = trembling, काँपता हुआ ; ladder = a frame with steps, सीढ़ी ; lantern = lamp,लालटेन ; flutter = to flap wings, फड़फड़ाना I