The Last Leaf

by

O. Henry

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Joanna (“Johnsy”) Character Analysis

A young artist from California. She lives with Sue in a studio apartment in Greenwich Village and has long dreamed of visiting Italy to paint the Bay of Naples. She falls seriously ill with pneumonia and becomes convinced that she will die when the last leaf falls from the vine outside her window. The doctor presents Johnsy’s hopelessness and her acceptance of death as the primary obstacle to her recovery, but Johnsy nonetheless cannot shake her fatalistic insistence that she will die when the last leaf falls. Sue’s attempts to cheer her up are unsuccessful, but when Mr. Behrman paints a realistic-looking leaf onto the wall outside Johnsy’s window—tricking Johnsy into believing that one leaf has improbably survived a storm—Johnsy realizes that her attitude has been unacceptable, and she regains her health.

Joanna (“Johnsy”) Quotes in The Last Leaf

The The Last Leaf quotes below are all either spoken by Joanna (“Johnsy”) or refer to Joanna (“Johnsy”). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Hope and Health Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of The Last Leaf published in 1994.
The Last Leaf Quotes

One was from Maine; the other from California. They had met at the table d'hote of an Eighth Street “Delmonico’s,” and found their tastes in art, chicory salad and bishop sleeves so congenial that the joint studio resulted.

Related Characters: Joanna (“Johnsy”), Sue
Page Number: 308
Explanation and Analysis:

[“]Your little lady has made up her mind that she's not going to get well. Has she anything on her mind?”
“She—she wanted to paint the Bay of Naples some day,” said Sue.
“Paint?–bosh! Has she anything on her mind worth thinking about twice—a man for instance?”

Related Characters: Sue (speaker), Doctor (speaker), Joanna (“Johnsy”)
Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:

[“W]henever my patient begins to count the carriages in her funeral procession I subtract 50 per cent from the curative power of medicines. If you will get her to ask one question about the new winter styles in cloak sleeves I will promise you a one-in-five chance for her, instead of one in ten.”

Related Characters: Doctor (speaker), Joanna (“Johnsy”)
Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:

[“]When the last one falls I must go, too. I've known that for three days. Didn't the doctor tell you?"
“Oh, I never heard of such nonsense,” complained Sue, with magnificent scorn. “What have old ivy leaves to do with your getting well?”

Related Characters: Joanna (“Johnsy”) (speaker), Sue (speaker)
Related Symbols: The “Last Leaf”
Page Number: 310
Explanation and Analysis:

“Is dere people in de world mit der foolishness to die because leafs dey drop off from a confounded vine? I haf not heard of such a thing. No, I will not bose as a model for your fool hermit-dunderhead. Vy do you allow dot silly business to come in der brain of her? Ach, dot poor leetle Miss Yohnsy.”
“She is very ill and weak,” said Sue, “and the fever has left her mind morbid and full of strange fancies. Very well, Mr. Behrman, if you do not care to pose for me you needn’t. But I think you are a horrid old—old flibbertigibbet.”
“You are just like a woman!” yelled Behrman. “Who said I will not bose? Go on. I come mit you. For half an hour I haf been trying to say dot I am ready to bose.”

Related Characters: Sue (speaker), Behrman (speaker), Joanna (“Johnsy”)
Related Symbols: The “Last Leaf”
Page Number: 312
Explanation and Analysis:

“Dear, dear!” said Sue, leaning her worn face down to the pillow, “think of me, if you won't think of yourself. What would I do?”
But Johnsy did not answer. The lonesomest thing in all the world is a soul when it is making ready to go on its mysterious, far journey. The fancy seemed to possess her more strongly as one by one the ties that bound her to friendship and to earth were loosed.

Related Characters: Sue (speaker), Joanna (“Johnsy”)
Page Number: 313
Explanation and Analysis:

“I've been a bad girl, Sudie,” said Johnsy. “Something has made that last leaf stay there to show me how wicked I was. It is a sin to want to die. You may bring me a little broth now, and some milk with a little port in it, and—no, bring me a hand-minor first, and then pack some pillows about me, and I will sit up and watch you cook.”
An hour later she said: “Sudie, some day I hope to paint the Bay of Naples.”

Related Characters: Joanna (“Johnsy”) (speaker), Sue
Related Symbols: The “Last Leaf”
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:

The janitor found him on the morning of the first day in his room downstairs helpless with pain. His shoes and clothing were wet through and icy cold. They couldn’t imagine where he had been on such a dreadful night. And then they found a lantern, still lighted, and a ladder that had been dragged from its place and some scattered brushes, and a palette with green and yellow colors mixed on it, and—look out the window, dear, at the last ivy leaf on the wall. Didn’t you wonder why it never fluttered or moved when the wind blew? Ah, darling, it’s Behrman's masterpiece—he painted it there the night that the last leaf fell.

Related Characters: Sue (speaker), Joanna (“Johnsy”), Behrman
Related Symbols: The “Last Leaf”
Page Number: 315
Explanation and Analysis:
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Joanna (“Johnsy”) Character Timeline in The Last Leaf

The timeline below shows where the character Joanna (“Johnsy”) appears in The Last Leaf. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Last Leaf
Hope and Health Theme Icon
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The story centers on Sue and Johnsy, two young women artists who met in a restaurant, discovered their shared tastes in art,... (full context)
Hope and Health Theme Icon
Gender and Sexuality Theme Icon
A doctor visits and tells Sue that Johnsy has a one in ten chance of living, and that her only chance is to... (full context)
Hope and Health Theme Icon
The “Starving Artist” and the “Masterpiece” Theme Icon
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Sue sits by Johnsy’s bedside working on an illustration for a magazine while Johnsy counts the leaves falling from... (full context)
Hope and Health Theme Icon
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...and failed his whole life to paint a masterpiece, is fiercely protective of Sue and Johnsy. When Sue tells Behrman about Johnsy’s fixation on the last leaf, he is contemptuous of... (full context)
Hope and Health Theme Icon
...the shade covering their window, the last leaf is still clinging tenaciously to the vine. Johnsy was sure that it would have fallen during the night, but she says that it... (full context)
Hope and Health Theme Icon
...another night of wind and rain fails to shake the last leaf from the vine, Johnsy sits up and asks for soup and a mirror, remarking that “something has made that... (full context)
Hope and Health Theme Icon
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...caught pneumonia and needs to be taken to the hospital. The next day, Sue tells Johnsy that Behrman has died. The janitor found him sick in his room dressed in cold,... (full context)