Answer Key: The Last Leaf by O. Henry
II. While Reading Tasks
- district |ˈdistrikt|-noun(abbr.: distr. )-an area of a country or city, esp. one regarded as a distinct unit because of a particular characteristic: an elegant shopping district.
- traverse |trəˈvərs|-verb [ with obj. ]- travel across or through: he traversed the forest.
- quaint |kwānt|-adjective-attractively unusual or old-fashioned: quaint country cottages | a quaint old custom.
- congenial |kənˈjēnyəl|-adjective-(of a person) pleasant because of a personality, qualities, or interests that are similar to one’s own: his need for some congenial company.
- pneumonia |n(y)o͞oˈmōnēə, -ˈmōnyə|-noun-lung inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infection, in which the air sacs fill with pus and may become solid.
- chivalry |ˈSHivəlrē|-noun-courteous behavior, esp. that of a man toward women: their relations with women were models of chivalry and restraint.
- swagger |ˈswagər|-verb [ no obj. ]-walk or behave in a very confident and typically arrogant or aggressive way: he swaggered along the corridor | (as adj. swaggering) : a swaggering gait.
- monocle |ˈmänikəl|-noun-a single eyeglass, kept in position by the muscles around the eye.
- solicitous |səˈlisitəs|-adjective-characterized by or showing interest or concern: she was always solicitous about the welfare of her students | a solicitous inquiry.
- merciless |ˈmərsiləs|-adjective-showing no mercy or pity: a merciless attack with a blunt instrument | figurative : the merciless summer heat.
Questions for Comprehension
- Many would say that Mr. Behrman was the protagonist because he played a significant role in saving Johnsy’s life.
- The story takes place in Greenwich Village, which is in New York City.
- The main characters are Johnsy, Sue, and Mr. Behrman.
- Sue and Johnsy are artists.
- Mr. Behrman painted the leaf on the wall to give Johnsy the will to live.
Questions for Reflection
- Some of the themes are love, friendship, illness, sacrifice, poverty, hope, and survival.
- One symbol in the story could be the falling leaves which symbolize both Johnsy’s failing health and her diminishing will to live. Another symbol is the painting of the leaf on the wall, which could be seen as symbolizing hope.
- One example of imagery is the following paragraph. “Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores, but his feet trod slowly through the maze of the narrow and moss-grown “places.”
- Sue referred to The Last Leaf as Behrman’s masterpiece mainly because it looked so much like a real leaf, it saved Johnsy’s life.