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The Last Leaf (Short Story)

"The Last Leaf" is a short story by O. Henry. It is set in Greenwich Village, New York City in the last part of the 1800s. The story takes us back to a time when the Village was populated by groups of newly arrived immigrants, bohemians and artists with modest and unreliable incomes.

Where are ivy vines often found? What do you think characterizes this plant? What does it symbolize in the story?

O. Henry alias William Sydney Porter
(1862 – 1910).

"The Last Leaf" is among the 381 short stories William Sydney Porter produced in New York City. His short stories are reputed for their wit and surprise endings. The author known by his pen name O. Henry was born in North Carolina in 1862 and died in 1910. When he was three years old his mother died from tuberculosis, the disease that was commonly known as consumption. Later on this cruel disease also demanded his wife’s life. As a boy he loved reading, with A Thousand and One Nights ranking as his favorite.

His career included jobs such as magazine editor, draftsman and bank accountant, but it somehow always included writing. His writing got kick-started when he moved to New York City in 1902 and this city provides the setting of "The Last Leaf". Get ready to meet the City at the turn of the 20th century when poor artists crowded the streets of Greenwich Village.

The Last Leaf

The Last Leaf

The Last Leaf – plain text

Who Says What?

The Last Leaf - Multiple Choice


  1. Why did artists want to settle in Greenwich Village?
  2. How did Sue and Johnsy become room mates?
  3. Give a description of Mr. Pneumonia.
  4. What did the doctor recommend for Johnsy to recover?
  5. How does the doctor demonstrate his low regard for painting?
  6. What did Johnsy count and why did she do it?
  7. How does Sue try to persuade Johnsy to stop thinking that she was going to die?
  8. Who is Mr. Behrman and why does Sue see him?
  9. Why does Johnsy command Sue to open the green shades? Why are they both taken by surprise?
  10. What caused Mr. Behrman’s death?

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