Unit 6: The Human Touch. Text A: The Last Leaf By O. Henry (William Sydney Porter). About the Author. O. Henry (1862-1910):
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Text A: The Last Leaf
By O. Henry
(William Sydney Porter)
O. Henry (1862-1910):
O. Henry, pseudonym of William Sydney Porter, is an American writer of short stories, best known for his ironic plot twists and surprise endings. O. Henry attended school only until age l5, when he dropped out to work in his uncle’s drugstore. During his 20s he moved to Texas, where he worked for more than ten years as a clerk and a bank teller. O. Henry did not write professionally until he
reached his mid-30s, when he sold several pieces to the Detroit Free Press and the Houston Daily Post. In 1894 he founded a short-lived weekly humor magazine, The Rolling Stone.
Charged with embezzling funds from the bank in Texas where he had worked from 1891 to 1894, O. Henry fled to Honduras rather than stay to stand trial. When he learned that his wife was dying, he returned to Texas in 1897; and after her death he turned himself to the authorities and served three years in prison,
where he began to write short stories and used the pseudonym O. Henry. Drawing on his life experience, O. Henry published over 500 short stories in dozens of widely read periodicals, which made him recognised as one of the most popular writers in America.
O. Henry's most famous stories, such as “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Furnished Room,” and "The Ransom of Red Chief," make simple yet effective use of paradoxical coincidences to produce ironic endings. For example, in “The
Gift of the Magi”, a husband sells his watch to buy his wife a Christmas present of a pair of hair combs; but, she cuts and sells her long hair to buy him a Christmas present of a new chain for his watch. His style of storytelling became a model not only for short fiction, but also for American motion pictures and television programs.
Writing at the rate of more than one story per week, O. Henry published ten collections of stories during a career that barely spanned a decade. Three more collections, Sixes And Sevens (1911), Rolling Stones (1912) and Waifs
And Strays (1917), were published after his death.
O. Henry's last years were shadowed by alcoholism, ill health, and financial problems. He died virtually penniless on June 5, 1910, in New York. In 19l9 the O. Henry Memorial Awards for the best American short stories published each year were founded by the Society of Arts and Sciences. The Complete Works of O. Henry was published in l953.
Q: What was, at first, Johnsy determined to do if the last ivy leaf should fall?
She made up her mind to die when the last leaf fell.
Q: What did she decide to do when she saw the last leaf still cling to the vine after two night’s rain and wind ?
She decided not to give up her life.
Q: How was it that the cold fierce wind did not blow away the last leaf ?
Behrman, a kind neighbour, who was aware of Johnsy’s state of mind, risked death to paint the last leaf, and saved her with his masterpiece.
Q: Why did she call the painted leaf Behrman’s masterpiece ?
Because it was so perfect that the girls both mistook it for the real thing.
The story revolves around the last ivy leaf . “The last leaf” is the most important of all the clues which help organize the story into one. Besides “the last leaf”, there are other clues that thread together the events in the story:
A.The doctor’s three visits. From the doctor we learn the gravity of Johnsy’s and Mr. Behrman’s illness (“she has a one chance in ten”, then an “even chance”, and then “she’s out of danger”. For Mr. Behrman’s illness, see Para. 26)
B. The Soup. Johnsy refused to take any soup offered to her when she had decided to die with the fall of the last ivy leaf. But when she was encouraged by the last ivy leaf that would not give in to the weather and her will to live returned, she asked for some soup.
C. The Bay of Naples. Before Johnsy fell ill, she had wanted to paint the Bay of Naples (L16) . When she inspired by the last undying ivy leaf she again hoped to paint the Bay of Naples (L105).
D. Mr. Behrman’s Masterpiece. (Paras. 18-20; Para. 39) Mr. Behrman was a failure in art and for forty years he had always been about to paint a masterpiece. He had always talked of his coming masterpiece. He believed that some day he would paint a masterpiece. And being a kind man, Old Behrman finally he painted his masterpiece on the wall and saved the life of Johnsy at the expense of his own.
Scene 1:(Paras. 1-2: Sue & Johnsy)
Sue’s roommate Johnsy caught pneumonia.
Scene 2: (Paras. 3-8: Doctor & Sue)
The doctor told Sue that Johnsy needed a strong will to live on.
Scene 3: (Paras. 9-17:Johnsy & Sue)
Johnsy decided that she would die when the last ivy leaf fall.
Scene 4: (Paras. 18-21: Behrman & Sue)
Sue told Behrman about Johnsy’s fancy.
Scene 5: (Paras. 22-33: Sue & Johnsy)
As Johnsy was encouraged by the last leaf that wouldn't give in to the weather, her will to live returned to her.
Scene 6: (Paras. 34-37: Doctor & Sue)
The doctor told sue that Johnsy would recover, but Behrman caught pneumonia himself and his case was hopeless.
Scene 7: (Paras. 38-39: Sue & Johnsy)
Sue told Johnsy that Behrman had performed a kind deed without any thought of self.
pattern: have /find sth. in tune with
opposite: out of tune
--His ideas are in tune with the times.
--The price of gold coins fluctuates(波动) in tune with that of commodities.
--Her character is quite out of tune with her beautiful.
2. joint (L5):(adj.) held or done by two or more persons together
--She had taken the money out of the joint account she had with her husband.
--There are a number of different forms of business ownership, such as partnerships, corporations and joint ventures.
--To attract foreign capital, China issued new economic regulations giving more preferential treatment to joint ventures.
Paragraph 2: Read and see what figure of speech is used in this paragraph.
Pneumonia is compared to a stranger resembling a human being. (Personification)
3. stalk about (L7): (of an evil force) move through (a place) in a threatening way; move quietly and cautiously in order to get near
--When night falls, danger stalks the streets of the city.
--The criminal stalked his victims like a hunter after a deer.
4.Victim (L8): person, animal, etc. suffering
death, injury or loss
--Police and hospital records indicate that the
majority of victims of domestic violence are
--The Red Cross assists victims of natural and
5. Subtract (L10): take (a number, quantity) away from
--When total taxes are subtracted from personal income, the remainder is called disposable income.
--Studentwere given a lot of practice in reading, writing, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.
add, subtract, multiply and divide
plus, minus, times, divided by
6. bare (L32):without covering, clothing, or decoration
--Soil he1d in place by plant roots is 1ess likely to blow or wash away than bare soil.
--In the 1970s China implemented its “barefoot doctor” campaign, which trained thousands of villagers in rudimentary health care.
Compare: bare, naked, nude, empty
--In giving first aid to an electric-shock victim, the caregiver must not touch the victim with bare hands.
--The millionaire’s daughter left her parents’ because she didn't want to lead an empty and meaning-less life.
--You’d better not count on his help. He is always making empty promises.
--The top of the hill was bare, but the slopes were covered with trees.
--In the west, so tourists swim and sunbathe on the beach naked.
--Bacteria are so tiny that you cannot see them with your naked eyes.
--He lived in a single nude small room.
7. Chances (L44): ((of) often plural with singular meaning)possibility, likelihood that something will happen
--(The) chances are ten to one that we will win.
--The chances are against the enemy.
--Leave it to chances.
--Chances are slim that they will win the game.
8. turn loose (L49): allow (sth.) to be free of control
--The sick whale will be taken care of by the scientists before being turned loose.
--The soldiers turned the prisoners loose one by one shortly after the city was conquered.
**The rope went loose and the cow wandered astray into the neighbor’s field.
9. look the part (L56): have an appearance for a particular job, role, or position
--Don’t judge a person from his appearance. He is president of the school though he doesn’t look the part.
--I think he must be a captain -- he certainly looks the part.
--Despite looking the part, Michael was not an artist at all.
10. masterpiece (L57) : a piece of work, esp. art, literature, which is the best of its type or the best a person has done
--The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is considered Mark Twain’s masterpiece.
--Many consider Michelangelo’s sculpture David to be his masterpiece.
11. to excess ( L59): to an extreme degree; excessively
--His father never smoked or drank to excess.
--Red meat, very high in fat and calories, is harmful to health if eaten to excess.
12. for the rest (L60): as regards other matters
--The book contains some interesting passages about the author’s childhood. For the rest, it is rather dull.
--The working conditions in my new job are excellent, but for the rest, I am not impressed.
13. fierce (L60):l) violent and angry
2) intense; strong
--A fierce police dog was chained to a wall.
--It was estimated that the fierce storm killed at least several thousand people and left more than one million without homes.
--The world is becoming a global market, and the competition is fierce.
--While Apple enjoyed brighter sales, competitors in the IBM PC world fought a fierce battle for market share.
14. Smell of (L63): have the smell of
--He does not brush his teeth after meals. His breath always smells of garlic or fish.
15. mock (L61): ridicule; make fun of (used in the pattern: mock (at) sb. / sth.)
--They mocked him and called him a coward.
--Don’t mock at him just because he keeps falling off his bike.
16.fancy (L66): (1)imagination, esp. in a free and undirected form; sth. imagined; unfounded opinion or belief
2) a liking formed without the support of reason.
--The forecasts in his book were not wild fancies.
--I think the story is a mixture of fact and fancy.
--I have taken a fancy to that silly hat.
--I have a fancy for bicycling.
**a fancy idea /car/dress/tie/portrait
17. persistent (L78): continuing; occurring again and again
--Neither high prices nor high wages could explain persistent depression and mass unemployment.
--The persistent growth of the EU countries has been remarkable.
--During the summer months persistent, heavy rainfall caused the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to overflow.
Allocation: persist in doing
18. Mingle (L78): mix (followed by with)
--The singer’s style mingles jazz and country music.
--Many traditions have mingled to form modern American Christmas celebrations and folklore.
--The smell of smoke mingles with the smell of the food.
19. pull up (L83): 1) raise
2) come to a stop
--I sat at my desk, knees pulled up to my chin.
--The old woman pulled the curtain up to see what was going on outside.
--The taxi pulled up outside the bus stop and picked up two passengers waiting for a bus.
--The driver pulled up at the gate.
20. Stand out (L86): be easily seen above or among others
--The working experience in Microsoft last year still stands out in my mind.
--On the record I had just played, the first song stands out from all the others.
stand by 支持 stand for 代表
stand on 坚持 stand up to 勇敢面对
stand well with sb. 与…相处得好
21. wear away (L91):1) (of time) pass gradually
2) (cause to) become thin or damaged by constant use.
--They didn’t reach an agreement. Instead they wore the afternoon away in arguing.
--The day wore away, and we still couldn’t find a solution to the problem.
--The steps have been worn away by the feet of thousands of visitors.
--The pattern on the handle had completely worn away.
22. cling to (L93) : hold tight to
--The child is clinging to his mother’s legs.
--Another man was rescued as he clung to the riverbank.
23. sin (L100) :offence against God, religion or good morals
--In Christian theology, the first sin was committed by Adam.
--The man confessed his sins to the priest.
--commit a sin (in religion)
--commit a crime (in law)
24. sit up (L103) :1) rise to a sitting position
2) stay up late ;
--The patient is well enough to sit up in bed now.
--The teacher asked his students to sit up straight.
--Don’t sit up for me if I’m late.
Cf. burn the midnight oil
burn the candle at both ends
25. even (L108) :1) (adv.) used just before the surprising part more than might be expected
--He could even eat a bull in a minute.
2) (adj.) a) smooth, flat b) regular, unchanging
--Cut the bushes even with the fence.
--He won the first game and I won the second, so we’re even / I’m even with him now.
3) (V.) become level or equal
--Socialist countries also put much more stress on evening out the distribution of wealth than does the U.S..
26. (L112) acute:l) (of diseases) coming quickly to the critical stage 2) severe
--She was taken to the hospital suffering from acute appendicitis (急性阑尾炎).
--His disease is not acute but chronic.
--The company is said to be suffering from acute financial difficulties.
--Food shortages in some African countries are becoming acute.
27. flutter(L127): move about in a quick, irregular way
--His hand trembled and the letter flutter to floor.
1. Lose the will to hang on to life:
2. Hold out little hope for: 对…不抱什么希望
3. Find their tastes in sth. in tune:发现他们 在…方面的趣味相投
4. Stalk about the district: 潜入这一地区
5. Have one chance in ten: 只有一成机会
6. Have sth. on one’s mind: 有什么心事
7. There’s nothing of that sort: 没那码子事!
8. Whistle a merry tune: 吹着轻快的口哨
9. Subtract 50 percent from the curative power: 把医药的疗效减去一半
10. In almost a whisper: 几乎以耳语般的声音
11. ten-to-one chance: 十之八九的机会
12. Turn loose my hold on everything:
13. Look the part: 看上去挺像
14. Paint a masterpiece: 创作一幅传世之作
15. Serve as a model to those young artists:
16. Drink to excess: 饮酒无度
17. For the rest: 要说/至于其他方面
18. Mock terribly at softness in anyone:
19. Peer at/stare at: 凝视着
20. Mingledwith: 夹杂着
21. Stand out against the brick walk:
22. wear away: 慢慢地过去
23. Cling to the sth/sb:
24. Even chances: 成败机会各半
25. Be out of danger: 脱离了危险