“That was in May. In November a cold, unseen stranger whom the doctors called Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching on here and there with his icy fingers.”
i) What happened in May?
Answer : Johnsy and Sue had met at the table d’note of an English Street Delmonico’s and found that their tastes and likes in art, chicory salad and bishop sleeves were same. Hence, they moved into a joint apartment in May.
ii) How had pneumonia affected Johnsy?
Answer : In November, pneumonia started to spread in the area and Johnsy was taken ill. She kept lying on her painted iron bed, scarcely moving. She kept looking through the samll Dutch window panes at the blank side of the next brick house.
iii) What had the doctor said about Johnsy’s illness?
Answer : The doctor was very worried looking at Johnsy and her lost will to fight the disease. He added that she had one chance in ten to live and that chance was if Johnsy wanted to live.
iv) What had Johnsy predicted about her death?
Answer : Johnsy had given up all her hopes. She thought that she would never recover from her illness. There was ivy outside the window of Johnsy’s room. She said that when the last leaf of the ivy would fall, she would die.
v) Why did the doctor say that the medicines might not work?
Answer : The doctor said that the he would try to help Johnsy as much as he can. However, he was afraid that his medicines might not work as Johnsy had given up hope to get better. He did not think that medicines helped much in such cases. He said that if Johnsy doesn’t try to help herself she won’t get cured.
“There goes another. No, I don’t want any broth. That leaves just four. I want to see the last one fall before it gets dark. Then I’ll go, too.”
i) Where is the scene set? Who is the speaker here? Identify the listener also.
Answer : The scene is set in joint apartment of Johnsy and Sue. These lines were spoken by Johnsy and Sue was the listener, when Sue asked her about having a drink.
ii) What had happened to the speaker?
Answer : In the month of November, there was a pneumonia outbreak and Johnsy was taken ill. The doctor had said that there was one chance in ten of her survival but no medicine could help her as she had lost the will to live.
iii) Did the ‘last leaf’ fall?
Answer : No, the ‘last leaf” did not fall. Actually, the last leaf was a masterpiece of Mr Behrman. He had painted it so beautifully that it looked like the real lead of the ivy. It gave Johnsy a new lease of life.
iv) What does the speaker mean by saying ‘Then I’ll go, too’?
Answer : Johnsy had formed a thought that she would be dead when the last leaf from the ivy would fall. By the statement she meant that when the laef falls then she would also depart from this world.
v) What did the speaker want to see before the dark?
Answer : Johnsy had been taken ill by pneumonia. Though there were chances of her survival, she had given up all her hope. She had formed an absurd opinion that she would die when the last leaf of the ivy outside her window would fall. She wanted to see it fall before dark.
Long Answer Type Question
Answer : Sue and Johnsy had met in May and had become good friends instantaneously. Unfotunately, Johnsy fell seriously ill of pneumonia in November. She would lie in her bed without moving, just gazing out of the window. Sue was very worried. There was no improvement in her condition. The doctor came to examine her. The doctor asked Sue if there was anything worrying Johnsy. When she denied, the doctor told her that Johnsy had made up her mind that she was not going to get well. Medicines wouldn’t help her if she had lost all hope.
Sue tried her best to make Johnsy take interest in things around her. She talked about clothes and fashion, but Johnsy did not respond. When Sue went to her room, she found Johnsy whispering something. She was counting the leaves of the ivy outside her window. She told Sue that she will die when the last leaf of the ivy falls. Sue rubbished her thoughts. Johnsy was so hopeless that she didn’t want to have food. She just wanted to look out of the window and wait for the last leaf to fall.
Sue went to Mr Behrman who lived on the ground floor. He was a painter. Sue shared her worries with him. Even he was amused to learn such a thing and called Johnsy stupid. Sue tried to defend Johnsy. Behrman said that he would give her a visit. Johnsy was sleeping. It was raining very heavily and the leaf would fall any minute.
The next morning, when Johnsy woke up she found the last leaf on the ivy. It was actually green and healthy. Johnsy was sure that the leaf would fall any minute. However, the leaf did not fall. Johnsy realised that she was a fool. She understood her mistake. The hopelessness had left her. She wanted to live. The doctor also said that he was confident of Johnsy’s recovery as she had the will to live. He informed that Mr Behrman was also suffering from pneumonia but he couldn’t be saved.
Sue told Johnsy that the janitor found Mr Behrman’s clothes and shoes all wet and he was shivering. He had been out on the stormy night. They found a ladder and a lantern also. There were also some brushes and green and yellow colour. He asked Johnsy if she had ever wondered why the last leaf didn’t flutter. It was actually Mr Behrman’s masterpiece. He painted it in the stormy night. The leaf did not fall and gave Johnsy a new hope. Johnsy got a new will to live and recovered from her illness.