Character Sketch of The Last Leaf

The short story “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry. The characters in this story are Sue, Johnsy, and Behrman. Let’s delve into a character sketch for each:


  • Overview: Sue is a young artist living in Greenwich Village. She is portrayed as compassionate and caring, particularly towards her friend Johnsy. She is also an optimist, always trying to uplift Johnsy’s spirits and bring positivity into their lives.
  • Role in the Story: Sue plays a central role in the narrative. Her concern for Johnsy’s well-being drives the plot forward. She is also an artist and is described as the more practical and hopeful of the two friends.
  • Relationship with Johnsy: Sue’s friendship with Johnsy is a key element. She is deeply concerned about Johnsy’s health and emotional state, and she takes various measures to support and encourage her friend.


  • Overview: Johnsy is Sue’s friend and a fellow artist. She is initially portrayed as fragile, both physically and emotionally. Her character is marked by a sense of despair and a preoccupation with her mortality.
  • Struggle with Illness: Johnsy is suffering from pneumonia, and her obsessive focus on the falling leaves becomes symbolic of her deteriorating health and pessimistic outlook on life.
  • Transformation: As the story progresses, Johnsy undergoes a transformation. The arrival of the last leaf becomes a catalyst for a change in her perspective, symbolizing hope and the will to live.


  • Overview: Behrman is an elderly artist who lives in the same building as Sue and Johnsy. He is described as old, unsuccessful in his artistic endeavors, and impoverished. Despite these challenges, he is portrayed as having a strong sense of duty and compassion.
  • Role in the Story: Behrman’s character plays a pivotal role in the resolution of the plot. He becomes the unsung hero who sacrifices himself to give Johnsy hope and a reason to live.
  • Act of Sacrifice: Behrman’s decision to paint the last leaf on the wall during a storm, risking his health, becomes an act of self-sacrifice. His dedication to saving Johnsy showcases the theme of selflessness and the power of genuine compassion.

Conclusion: In “The Last Leaf,” O. Henry creates a poignant tale of friendship, hope, and sacrifice through the characters of Sue, Johnsy, and Behrman. Sue represents optimism and practicality, Johnsy embodies despair and eventual transformation, and Behrman becomes a symbol of selfless sacrifice. The characters intertwine in a narrative that explores the human spirit’s capacity for resilience, the impact of genuine care and friendship, and the unexpected ways in which hope can emerge even in the face of adversity. The character dynamics contribute to the emotional depth and thematic richness of the story, making “The Last Leaf” a timeless exploration of the human condition.

Scroll to Top