Character Sketch of Behrman in The Last Leaf

Behrman is a character in O. Henry’s short story “The Last Leaf.” He is an old artist who lives in the same building as Sue and Johnsy, the two main characters in the story. Behrman’s role becomes crucial in the narrative as events unfold.

Personality: Behrman is portrayed as a gruff and eccentric individual. He is a Bohemian artist known for his rough exterior and unconventional lifestyle. Despite his outward demeanor, Behrman has a compassionate and caring side, particularly towards Sue and Johnsy.

Occupation: Behrman is an artist, and his passion for his craft is evident in the story. He is known for his decades-long pursuit of creating a masterpiece, a work that would secure his place in the art world.

Protective Instinct: Behrman develops a protective instinct towards Sue and Johnsy, the two young artists living in the same building. He watches over them, especially Johnsy, with a sense of care and concern.

Act of Sacrifice: In a poignant twist in the story, Behrman makes the ultimate sacrifice for Johnsy. Upon learning about Johnsy’s belief that she will die when the last leaf falls from a vine outside her window, Behrman takes it upon himself to ensure the leaf stays in place, even if it means exposing himself to harsh weather conditions.

Symbol of Sacrifice: Behrman’s selfless act becomes a symbol of sacrifice and compassion. Despite his tough exterior, he is willing to risk his health and life for the sake of someone he cares about.

Tragic Hero: Behrman can be seen as a tragic hero in the story. His decades-long quest to create a masterpiece is thwarted by unforeseen circumstances. However, his final act, saving Johnsy’s life at the cost of his own, elevates him to a heroic status in the narrative.

Artistic Frustration: Behrman’s character also reflects the theme of artistic frustration. Despite his sincere efforts, he never achieves the recognition he desires during his lifetime. His ultimate masterpiece, however, is not a painting but an act of selfless love.

Legacy: Behrman’s legacy in the story is not through the art world but through his impact on Sue and Johnsy. His sacrifice becomes a source of inspiration and hope for the two young artists, underscoring the transformative power of selfless acts.

Conclusion: Behrman, in “The Last Leaf,” is a multifaceted character who transcends his initial gruff exterior to become a symbol of sacrifice and compassion. His role in the story adds depth to the narrative and reinforces themes of love, art, and the enduring spirit of human connection.

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