The Last Leaf Characters

“The Last Leaf’ published back in 1907 is a masterpiece from O. Henry that depicts typical William Sydney Porter style of work. The name of the novel itself is confusing but it’s the symbol of “hope”. As the story progresses it has tried to empower a person to fight against death. Throughout the story, the writer has used the epithet, simile, zeugma, comparison, irony and several other lexical devices to empower love, passion, and hope. There is misbelieve and realization regarding life that has made it a masterpiece. Main living characters of this story were, Sue, Johnsy and Mr. Behrman and Doctor and a nonliving character Mr. Pneumonia.


Sue is a loving and caring friend who always takes care of Johnsy. Sue by herself is a young artist and being one of the best friends of Johnsy, always takes care of her. Sue has always provided mental strength to Johnsy. While Jonhsy is always captured by the thought of dying due to pneumonia, Sue sees the positive side out of it and always convinces Johnsy that thinking about death is a sin. Sue is a symbol of optimism in the story. She is a symbol of friendship and sacrifice – two most virtues of life.


Johnsy is another main character in this short story. Johnsy has been suffering from pneumonia for several days. When she met with Sue, they started a discussion about death. Johnsy used to believe, like the last leaf of the vine tree, her life is on the verge to fall. She has told Sue if any day rain comes; then as the last leaf of this vine tree will fall, she will die too. The author depicts the pessimism in Johnsy’s character.

One night rain came and both of Johnsy and Sue were sitting close to each other. Ultimately in the next morning, they saw that last leaf of the vine tree has made through. This has emerged new hope to Johnsy to fight against death. This symbolizes that hope is another power which helps one to overcome many difficult situations of life.

Mr. Behrman

Mr. Behrman was a frustrated artist who lived in the same apartment of Johnsy and Sue. Throughout the story, this frustrated old man wanted to draw a masterpiece but alas! He never got success because he has never attempted to draw one. This ugly man was a hard nut to crack but a soft from inside. He thinks Johnsy a fool because of her thought.

At the end of the story, the writer has shown that Mr. Behrman has died of Pneumonia representing a defeated character.

Mr. Pneumonia

Mr. Pneumonia is the main antagonist in this story. Actually, he was not an old gentleman but was a deadly disease. There were no medicines available at that time, thus this disease ultimately leads to death. In the story, Behrman dies of pneumonia.

Pneumonia is the symbol of death, one of the inevitable truths of life in the story.

A Doctor

In this story, the doctor wasn’t the main character but has some special appearances. The doctor has first stated that Johnsy was suffering from pneumonia. O.Henry expressed doctors as the person who can improve body but doesn’t have any magical power.


These are the main protagonists in the entire story. Their characters are sketched in such a way that makes the story realistic and takes it forward. The characters represent many important themes of life, human passions and relationships.

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