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Tasks: The Last Leaf

Here are a variety of tasks to the short story "The Last Leaf".

Comprehension Questions:

  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?

Multiple Choice Quiz:

Literary Analysis:

The tasks below deal with analyzing lierature. If you need to brush up on your analyzing skills, click here: How to Analyze a Short Story

  1. What kind of setting does the author provide? How does he suggest the mood in the story?
  2. How are the main characters introduced?
  3. Why do you think the author chooses to personify the disease pneumonia by calling it “Mr. Pneumonia”? Which effect does it have on the story? If in doubt, look up personification.
  4. Sue is lying about Johnsy’s chances to survive. Explain why she is twisting the doctor’s statement. What does that reveal about Sue’s feelings for her roommate?
  5. How is the ivy vine important in the story and how does it give suspense to it? Explain how the ivy vine might be interpreted as a metaphor. If you don't remember what a metaphor is, check How to Analyze Poetry.
  6. Make a portrayal of Mr. Behrman.
    You should consider:

    • What does Mr. Behrman’s exclamation reveal about his character?
      “Is dere people in de world mit der foolishness to die because leafs dey drop off from a confounded vine? I haf not heard of such a thing. No, I will not bose as a model for your fool hermit-dunderhead. Vy do you allow dot silly pusiness to come in der brain of her? Ach, dot poor leetle Miss Yohnsy."
    • Why do you think the author has chosen to characterize the artist using his accent? On the basis of his accent, where would you suggest he is born?
    • What made Mr. Behrman make his last (and only) masterpiece?
  7. Explain what you would consider as the turning point of the story.
  8. What do you think is the message in the story? How is the doctor’s presumption the bottom line of the story?
  9. O. Henry is reputed for the frequent surprising endings of his short stories. Comment on the ending of this story.

Creative Tasks:

  1. You have been asked to adapt "The Last Leaf" to film. How would you make the opening sequence? Make a Photo Story to demonstrate how you would make it. As a director you are encouraged to be creative. Give reasons for your instructions.
  2. Make a visual presentation of "The Last Leaf". Stick to the chronology of the story.
  3. Make a brochure intended for New York tourists going to visit Greenwich Village. Use this link or make a general search Visit Greenwich Village Your brochure should contain: a map, top attractions, a brief history, directions about how to get there and accommodation.
  4. In "The Last Leaf" Behrman sacrificed his life to rescue Johnsy. To give up your life for someone else is the greatest sacrifice we could possibly make. However, there are lots of people that have made sacrifices to help other people without giving up their life. Write a text about a historical person that you admire for his/her sacrifice (see some suggestions in the list below). State which sacrifice they made and why you think this person chose to make his/her sacrifice:

    • Florence Nightingale
    • Mahatma Gandhi
    • Nelson Mandela
    • Mother Teresa
    • Martin Luther King


Working with suffixes. Below you will find a list of art forms. What would you name the performer or creator? Pay attention to the suffixes (endings). Is it: -or, -ian, -ist, -er or –ess?

  • music _______________
  • painting_______________
  • acting________________
  • design________________
  • photography_____________
  • novel_________________
  • writing_______________
  • dance_______________
  • sculpture______________
  • animation_____________

Find Out

Greenwich Village used to attract people from a wide range of creative arts. One of the most popular places to gather in the early 1960s was Café Wha? The café reopened its doors in 2006. Search for Café Wha? on www.youtube.com, browse the video provided there and search the net. Then answer the questions.

  1. What kind of musicians used to perform at the club? Which label could we use to characterize the music they performed?
  2. Look at a USA timeline and the 1960s. A lot of the artists that performed at Café Wha? were in the prime of their life. How do you think their music mirrors events in the 1960s?
  3. Make a digital poster to announce a concert by one of the famous people that entered the stage at Café Wha?

Relatert innhold

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.

CC BY-SASkrevet av Eli M. Huseby.
Sist faglig oppdatert 05.10.2018


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