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Promote active engagement with fiction, support the development of close reading analysis skills for high school, and evaluate general reading comprehension with this bundle of resources for teaching the ironic short story “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry. Included are the following: a plot-based quiz, a worksheet composed of rigorous close reading questions, the public domain narrative, and answer keys. Materials are delivered in printable Word Document and PDF formats.

By completing the quiz, students will demonstrate knowledge of the following:

  • The setting and its appeal (and lack of appeal) to specific communities
  • The backstory of the narrative’s protagonists
  • Johnsy’s medical circumstances
  • The doctor’s assessment of Johnsy’s condition and survival chances
  • Character motivations
  • Johnsy’s psychological state
  • The general characterization of Mr. Behrman
  • An ironic turn of events
  • A sacrifice in the resolution

By completing the close reading analysis worksheet, students will:

  • Identify what the text states both explicitly and implicitly
  • Analyze how complex characters interact and develop
  • Apply knowledge of literary devices including allusion, metaphor, personification, dramatic irony, and situational irony
  • Compare and contrast characters
  • Analyze the author’s diction to understand its intended effect
  • Analyze the author’s stylistic choices such as the decision to capitalize “Art” and “Literature”
  • Cite textual evidence in support of claims
  • Write with clarity, accuracy, and precision