The Last Leaf Analysis

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Everyone in this world experiences some large loss in their lifetime. “Gwilan’s Harp” by Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Washwoman” by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry all starkly portray this theme. The harpist in “Gwilan’s Harp” loses her harp and then later her skills and soon after her beloved husband. In “The Washwoman”, the dear old launderer has lost the love of her son, health, and soon her life. One of the artists in “The Last Leaf” loses her hope for living when she contracts pneumonia and because of his care for her she ends up losing the best neighbor she could hope for. All three authors carefully weave in many life lessons through the bittersweet stories they tell.

Ursula K. LeGuin, in her exquisite story “Gwilan’s
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Despite having lost her husband sometime before the story picks up, she stoutly continues life. Though she might have had a better life previous to that loss, she is subjected to the degrading job of a washwoman; laundering others clothes for a little pay. Her only child, a son, turns away from poor, hardworking mother. “He was ashamed of his mother, the washerwoman, and never came to see her. Nor did ever give her a groschen” (Singer). Even in the face of all these losses the old woman tells her sad story of pain and grief without any bitterness against her cold hearted son. In the midst of a frigid November she takes ill and stubbornly refuses to die until she can return the wash. Because of her weak health and the icy weather she dies. The washer woman always took losses as a normal part of life and resolutely refused to let herself collapse simply for some loss, even large …show more content…
Henry with his one of his beautiful stories, “The Last Leaf” set in a jumbled part of New York City, demonstrates how people’s attitudes about life can cause great loss. Johnsy, a budding young artist who owns a joint studio with Sue her friend, becomes ill with pneumonia one winter and lays unmoving in bed. Sue bustles around trying to do all she can for her roommate. Before long though, Sue finds out from the doctor that Johnsy has lost hope and begun to count the carriages in her funeral and then happens to hear Johnsy counting leaves on an ivy vine on the wall of the next and saying that when the last one falls she will go too. After complaining rather vociferously about Johnsy’s ideas, Sue hurries down the steep stairs to confide in their neighbor, Mr. Behrman who was a rather loud dirty old man yet watched over his young neighbors with much care. He cries over Johnsy’s predicament and silently decides that he shall do something about the situation. Behrman then offers up his life, willingly losing it to bring Johnsy hope. “…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” (Henry). Johnsy had lost hope for herself and when Behrman tired to help her she lost him in the

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