The lesson “The Last Leaf” is written by Oscar Wilde. The story takes place in New York City at the time of a pneumonia pandemic.
The lesson opens with the narrator introducing two female characters to his readers: Sue and Johnsy. They were close friends. Both of them lived together in a small flat. The flat was on the third floor of an old house. The two girls were young artists. The term “artist” refers to a person who creates paintings as a profession or hobby.
Sue and Johnsy

After introducing the two characters, the narrator tells about the health condition of Johnsy. He said that Johnsy was affected by pneumonia in November. Due to her illness, she would lie in her bed and look out of the window. On seeing her friend’s situation, Sue became very sad. So she called a doctor. The doctor came to see Johnsy every day, but her health condition did not improve.
Johnsy remained still in her bed
One day, the doctor visited Sue’s and Johnsy’s house to check Johnsy’s health condition. After examining, the doctor thought that there was something wrong with her. So he called Sue aside and asked her whether Johnsy had any worries or sufferings. The doctor made the statement because even after treating her well and giving the required medicines, there was no improvement in her health. So he wanted to know the thing worrying Johnsy.
After hearing the doctor’s statement, Sue said that nothing was worrying her. After replying, she asked the doctor why he had asked such a question. Later, the doctor responded that it seemed that Johnsy had made a firm decision that she would not recover from pneumonia. If she had such a notion in her mind, medicines would not work on her. Johnsy had a negative thought, and if she continued thinking about her death, no one could help her.
Later, Sue made every effort to arouse Johnsy’s curiosity in the things around her. She discussed many interesting things like clothes and fashion with her, but Johnsy remained quiet. Even after hearing Sue’s talk, Johnsy lay still on her bed. As Johnsy was also an artist, Sue thought that she would provoke Johnsy’s interest through drawing. As a result, Sue brought her drawing board inside Johnsy's room. Later, Sue started the painting to create an interest in her and take her mind off from her illness. Meanwhile, Sue would whistle at times while painting to boost up Johnsy.
Sue brought her drawing-board into Johnsy’s room

While Sue was painting, she heard Johnsy murmuring something. To know what she was saying, Sue quickly moved towards the bed. Sue heard Johnsy counting numbers backwards. While lying in bed, Johnsy looked out of the room’s window and said, “Twelve!” After some time, Johnsy muttered “eleven”, then “ten”, then “nine”, “eight”, “seven”.
Meanwhile, Sue was curious and looked outside the window. She noticed an old ivy creeper spreading halfway upon the brick wall. The creeper was growing opposite to their window. As the strong wind blew, the leaves of the creeper were falling.
Ivy creeper on a wall

After noticing the strange things, Sue asked Johnsy what the matter was. Initially, Johnsy didn’t respond to her. She continued counting backwards. Later, she mumbled as “Six”. After counting six, Sue said that the leaves were shedding faster. In addition, she said that there were many leaves on the ivy creeper three days ago – almost one hundred leaves, but now only five were left.
After hearing that the ivy creeper was shedding its leaves day by day, Sue replied that it was autumn. Also, she said that it is a natural phenomenon that creeper sheds its leaves during that season. On the other hand, Johnsy said that she would die when the last leaf fell. Moreover, she said that she had known about that for the last three days. It means that Johnsy was counting her life with the shedding of leaves. She thought that she would die when the last leaf of the ivy creeper fell.
Leaves fall in the autumn season

After hearing the foolish talk of Johnsy, Sue said, “Oh, that’s nonsense”. Sue made the statement because she couldn’t accept whatever Johnsy was saying. Sue knew that Johnsy was making meaningless statements. Later, Johnsy thought of consoling her. So she said that the leaves had nothing to do with Johnsy’s health. The falling of leaves did not predict someone’s future. Also, she added that the doctor was sure that Johnsy would recover from her illness.
Later, Johnsy did not make any remarks. She remained silent. So Sue went to the kitchen and brought a bowl of soup for Johnsy. After seeing the soup, Johnsy said she was not hungry and did not want to drink the soup. Then she said that there were only four leaves left on the ivy creeper. She wanted to see the last leaf fall before the sunset, and then she could die peacefully. Here, one can understand that Johnsy was stuck on believing that she would die when the last leaf fell. On the other hand, Sue tried to motivate her by saying that it was an autumn season and there was nothing to panic about.
A bowl of soup

Sue tried to show affection towards Johnsy. She sat on Johnsy’s bed and kissed her. Then she motivated her and said she was not going to die. Later, Sue said she could not close the curtain because she needed light to complete the painting. In addition, she said that she would sell the painting to fetch money for them. As the two girls were staying together, they required money for running their livelihood. Their profession was painting. As Johnsy was affected with pneumonia, Sue had to run the family and look after Johnsy’s health. So she requested her friend Johnsy not to look out of the window while she was painting.
After hearing Sue's concern, Johnsy said, "All right". Then she asked Sue to finish the painting soon because she wanted to see the last leaf fall. She also stated that she was tired of waiting and that she wished to die soon. She compared her death with the ivy leaves. She wished to depart from the world in the same way the poor, exhausted ivy leaves did. It indicates that she was tired of her illness and desired to leave the world.
Later, Sue asked her friend Johnsy to try to sleep for some time. Then she said that she had to paint an old miner. As a result, she chose to use their next-door neighbour, Behrman, as a model for her painting. Sue headed downstairs to Behrman's apartment on the ground floor.
The narrator then introduces the old Behrman to his readers. Behrman was a sixty-year-old man. He was a painter whose lifelong ambition was to create a masterpiece. However, he was unable to fulfil his aim. For him, his goal remained a fantasy. Sue told him about Johnsy's health when they met. She might have told Behram about Johnsy's illness because they both lived in the same flat, and he was a senior painter. As a result, the old man and the girls might have a good relationship with each other. Later, she told him that Johnsy was sure that she would die when the last leaf fell off the ivy plant.
Mr Behrman, an old painter

After hearing Sue's words, Behrman asked, "Is she stupid?" He made the statement because how can a person's existence be compared to the shedding of leaves. Furthermore, Behrman questioned how Johnsy could think such nonsense. According to him, Johnsy's behaviour seemed to be silly. On the other hand, Sue said that Johnsy was suffering from a high fever. Also, she complained that Johnsy was not eating or drinking anything. Her activities made Sue sad. As she was her close friend, Sue tried hard to make her active. But Johnsy didn't listen to her words.
Then the old Behrman said that he would come with Sue to see Johnsy. Behram and Sue entered the room quietly. They noticed that Johnsy had fallen asleep. Without disturbing Johnsy, Sue shut the curtains, and they went to the adjoining room. Later, Sue looked out of the window. She noticed there was only one leaf left on the creeper.
The last leaf
Meanwhile, there was heavy rain accompanied by strong, cold winds. While looking at the leaf, one can understand that the leaf may fall at any moment. After noticing the weak leaf, Behrman did not say anything. Later, he went back to his room.
The following day, Johnsy woke up, and in a weak voice, she asked Sue to open the curtains. Sue was afraid because she didn't know whether the leaf was there. Also, there was a heavy storm the previous night, and it worried her. Later she opened the curtains unwillingly. When Sue looked at the vine creeper, she exclaimed, "Oh!" She informed Johnsy that there was still a leaf left on the creeper. Also, she said that the leaf appeared green and healthy. The leaf didn't fall even though there was a heavy storm and strong wind.
Green and healthy leaf

At that moment, Johnsy said that she had heard the strong wind blowing the previous night. She had thought that the leaf would fall. Later, she said that it would fall that day for sure and then she would die too. After hearing Johnsy's words, Sue said that Johnsy would not die. Moreover, she said that Johnsy had to live for her friends. In addition, Sue said that she couldn't imagine what would happen if Johnsy died. Through this statement, one can understand the caring and real friendship of her friend Sue. She wanted to make Johnsy recover from her illness. So she tried hard to support her.
Then Johnsy smiled and closed her eyes. After every hour, she would look out of the window. The reason for looking out was that she wanted to know whether the leaf was there or not. The leaf looked like it was clinging to the creeper. It means that the leaf was holding the creeper.
There was another heavy storm that evening, but the leaf didn't fall from the ivy creeper. Johnsy kept looking at the leaf for a long time. Then she called her friend Sue. When Sue came there, Johnsy said that she had behaved like a bad girl. It means that she never paid attention to Sue. In addition, Johnsy said that Sue looked after her very affectionately, and in return, Johnsy did not cooperate with her and remained sad and dull. Johnsy said the last leaf had made her realise how foolish she was. Then she said that her desire to die was a sin.
After hearing that, Sue was glad to see the changes in Johnsy. She hugged her friend. Then Sue gave her a lot of hot soup to help her recover from her illness. Later she gave a mirror to her. On seeing the mirror, Johnsy combed her hair and smiled brightly. When Johnsy realised her stupidity, she started becoming more active. So from this paragraph, one can understand that negativity spoils one's life. Having faith and hope among oneself can make one overcome every challenging situation.
Johnsy combing her hair

The doctor visited Johnsy in the afternoon. After checking Johnsy's health condition, the doctor said that the desire or hope to live was back in Johnsy. He was sure that she would recover from her illness. Then he said to Sue that he had to go downstairs to see Behrman because he was suffering from pneumonia. Also, he said that he had no hope in the old man that he would recover from his illness.
The following day Sue came and sat beside Johnsy's bed. She took Johnsy's hand in hers and said that she had something to tell her. She said that Behrman died in the morning due to pneumonia. In addition, she said that he was ill for only two days. On the first day, the janitor had found Behrman in his bed. His shoes and clothes were wet, and he was shivering. He became wet because he had gone out during the heavy stormy night.
Moreover, Sue said that a ladder and a lighted lantern were lying near his bed. In addition, she said that some paintbrushes and green and yellow paint were also lying nearby the ladder. Sue asked her friend Johnsy to look at the ivy leaf. She asked Johnsy whether she knew why the leaf did not shake or move while the heavy wind blew. Then she said that it was his masterpiece. Behrman's "last leaf" was called his masterpiece because the leaf seemed real.
The old man had painted his masterpiece when the last leaf fell. He did it because he wanted to save the life of the girl. He knew that the last leaf was the only hope of the young girl. So he painted the leaf to save the girl, and his everlasting dream came true in the end.