Loss In The Last Leaf

735 Words3 Pages
The Choice after Loss

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, American psychologist. When loss hits, people’s real character is revealed. For some, like Gwilan in, “Gwilan’s Harp” and the washwoman in, “The Washwoman”, loss only highlights their naturally selfless attitude. For others, like Mr. Behrman in “The Last Leaf”, great tragedy must occur before they awake to the needs of others. Either way, the responses of Gwilan, the washwoman, and Mr. Behrman to defeat and suffering show that they are beautiful people. In the short stories “Gwilan’s Harp” by Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Washwoman” by Isaac Singer, and “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry, the theme of loss reveals a selfless attitude in each of the key characters.

Gwilan, the main character in “Gwilan’s Harp”, suffers great loss throughout her life; however in times of sadness, her resilience and perseverance shines most brightly. First Gwilan undergoes the loss of her most
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Behrman, the unlikely hero from “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry, serves others when faced by loss. A drunk and failure of an artist, Mr. Behrman has lost his respectability as a man. However when his neighbor, Johnsy, decides she will die when the last leaf falls off a vine outside, Mr. Behrman rises above his losses and takes pity on her saying, “Ach, dot poor leetle Miss Yohnsy” (O. Henry). Mr. Behrman sacrifices himself and goes out into the stormy night to paint a leaf on the wall behind the vine so that the last leaf will never fall and Johnsy will recover. Mr. Behrman’s act saves Johnsy, but he catches pneumonia from the stormy night and dies. Mr. Behrman had lost his pride, but when confronted with the potential loss of Johnsy, he took his eyes off his own failure and loss and selflessly put himself at risk. Even in the wake of his own misfortune, Mr. Behrman serves
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