“The Last Leaf” – The Hope That Heals.
“The Last Leaf” by O. Henry is an interesting short story about a sick girl named Johnsy, who is deeply affected by a bare vine tree. Johnsy has decided she will not get well and has reconciled herself with the fact that she is going to die when the last leaf falls off the ivy bush outside her bedroom window. Johnsy’s hopelessness and willingness to accept the worst without a fight is a major statement about the emotional state of the character. In his wonderful short-story “the last leaf”, using sacrificial themes, fear of pneumonia and a twist on the fatalistic tone, O.Henry depicted a really meaningful goal: Life must have hope.
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In brief, I love this story very much. Its plot and its characters are simply, but it is a very touching story that makes I recognize many things in life. Life is meaningful only for people who have hope and love. The hope helps us live better and heals our body and spirit. Hope is the foundation of our personal futures; each of us would probably suicide without hope. It is the virtue that helps us overcome obstacles. Without hope, we seem to give up easily like Johnsy in the story. Without hope, there is nothing. Another important thing in life is love. O. Henry, through the story, advices us should love ourselves and other people. The love between three persons, Johnsy, Sue and old Behrman makes a moving story. Johnsy had sometimes forgotten loving herself and cause the worry for Sue, but the biggest love is the love of the old Behrman for Johnsy. He was self – sacrifice to save the life of Johnsy. Despite being a old man, he didn’t hesitate to go out in a cold weather, climb up the ladder and paint the last leaf, because he know that it is the leaf of hope, a hope for a life that is giving up . In addition, I never see that life and death seem to be close like that. The fate is “decided” just through the last faint ivy leaf, it was such an “idiotic imaginings” (Henry 49). Life and death link together by the revivification of Johnsy and the death of the old Behrman. It is a familiar method in O. Henry’s stories: everything has its own worth.
The meaning of masterpiece in this story makes me change my mind. Before that, I think a masterpiece should be a large, a big, and an imposing picture. In the story, the last leaf picture of Behrman is very simple, but it is really a masterpiece by the meaning. He spent all the night under the terrible weather to draw it, and pay his life for it. Eventually, all of the leaves fall from the vine, save the one last leaf. All readers easily understand that how much effort, how much love contained in that leaf picture. More than that, the most important thing, “the last leaf” saved a life of a poor mind girl, who gave up life too easily.
The end being the surprise ending that make the story feel sad.. The reader then finds out that O. Henry wrote a character that is obviously so void of passion about anything that at the first illness she gets, plans to die. Behrman, the man who will become her savior, seems to have the same lack of interest with his art. He is described as “a failure in art” (Henry 46). .”He had been always about to paint a masterpiece, but had never yet begun it” (Henry 48). If he was motivated or inspired to be an artist, he would have found something to paint in all of his years instead of waiting for the one inspiration that would create his masterpiece. Although he died, he did become what he had always claimed to be, an artist “had been waiting there for twenty-five years to receive the first line of the masterpiece” (Henry 49), his final masterpiece, which saved Johnsy’s uninspired life, was nothing more than a simple leaf painted upon a drab brick wall.
All the things that our doctors tell us to do and undergo may not be easy, but they are meant to make us well. All the things that our love ones do to us, for us, they do for one reason: To keep us alive! We may not be living a very easy life, but all these tribulations, if surpassed, will make us stronger. They make life more meaningful and significant. “It is a sin to want to die” (Henry 51). Most of the times we are trying to be Johnsy just fearing about the last leaf, we often forget to love the life God has given us. Being Bermans is quite not possible for everyone, but at least we can live our life not just waiting for that “last leaf”. Let us, at all cost, dare to dream, dare to live, … Live the life that God want us to live, no matter how short it be.
O.Henry. “The last leaf” The best story of O.Henry. New York, Modern Library.
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