The Last Leaf by O. Henry

William Sydney Porter aka O. HenryA year or so ago some friends of ours were over and we began discussing short stories that we have loved. It made for a great conversation and we even took some time to download and print some of our favorites from the internet. We read a couple of them aloud that night and had a great time doing so. Well I had forgotten about that until today when I read (or rather, heard read) possibly the most wonderful short story I have ever come across. No doubt most of you, my educated readers, have already been introduced to this work, but to me it was entirely new. It was The Last Leaf by O. Henry (the pen name of William Sydney Porter). The story of two ladies, artists, who are the best of friends and share a loft. Their names are Sue and Joanna (or “Johnsy” for short). Johnsy comes down with pneumonia and does nothing but lay on her bed staring out the window at a vine who’s leaves are falling one by one and she is convinced that she will die at the very moment the last leaf falls. Her friend and roomate Sue, is trying desperately to keep up Johnsy’s failing spirits but nothing helps. Johnsy believes her demise will come with the shedding of the vine’s final leaf.

I was absolutely surprised and blindsided by the ending. I was also very moved. Do yourself a favor, take a few moments to read O. Henry’s The Last Leaf. After reading it, leave a comment and let me know what you think. But in your commenting do not give away the ending for the sake of those who have not yet read it.

Josh H.


2 Responses to “The Last Leaf by O. Henry”

  1. December 5, 2007 at 8:55 am

    I had forgotten how much I loved that story until I just reread it. I went through an O. Henry phase in high school, and I bet I read all of his works several times. Even though you know his stories always have a twist, you rarely are able to predict what the twist will be.

  2. December 6, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    I’ve always loved this one.

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