The Last Leaf

The Last Leaf Study Guide

O. Henry's 1907 short story "The Last Leaf" is about a young artist named Johnsy who falls victim to a pneumonia epidemic that hits New York City. As Johnsy counts the ivy leaves falling off the vine outside her window, she superstitiously believes she will die when the last leaf falls; miraculously, the last leaf withstands two nights of rain and wind, by which point Johnsy has regained her health. However, Johnsy learns from her roommate Sue that their elderly neighbor painted the leaf on the wall two nights earlier; in the process, he develops a deadly case of pneumonia.

First published in The Trimmed Lamp and Other Stories, "The Last Leaf" was later adapted for the screen and the stage.