The Analysis of the Dialogues in The Last Leaf Based on Cooperative Principle
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The Analysis of the Dialogues in O.Henry's "The Last Leaf" Based on Cooperative Principle 1. Main Content and Theme of the "The Last Leaf" Johnsy, Sue and Behrman are three of the impoverished artists. One autumn, Johnsy suffers from Pneumonia. She hasn't any passion for the future life that she depends her life on the ivy leaves outside the window. She believes that the moment the last leaf falls she will die. Her friend, Sue constant nurse and comfort her. One night, during a bad storm destined to tear the last leaf from the tree, Old Behrman, regardless of the cold, wet night paints a vivid leaf on the outdoor vine to restore the dying Johnsy's hope to live. The last leaf kindled Johnsy's life fire again. However, Mr. Berhman died of pneumonia during the night. The Last Leaf speaks highly of the sincere lasting friendship just as the evergreen ivy leaf, and the noble spirit--selfless sacrifice. 2. The Intention of This Article Dialogues between characters in "The Last Leaf" are nearly half portion of the whole story so this article tries to reveal the priceless friendship through analyzing their dialogues based on Paul Grice's Cooperative Principle. 3. Dialogues between Sue and Johnsy "What is it, dear?" asked Sue.
Having failed to get her question answered, Sue(3)asks it gently again despite that Johnsy flouts the maxim of relation. Sue's toleration makes their conversation go on and shows her affection towards Johnsy. Another example is (11): when Johnsy mentions the silly idea of the leaves, Sue violates the maxim of Relation again. Sue refuses to make what she says relevant to Johnsy's silly thought and changed the subject of conversation. She thereby implicates that Johnsy should not be so foolish. When the dying Johnsy asks her whether the doctor told her she would die soon. Sue says (5), "the doctor told me this morning that your chances for getting well real soon were--let's see exactly what he said--he said the chances were ten to one!" what she says is not the same to the doctor's words, "one to ten". So she breaks the maxim of quality: "Do not say what you believe to be false." Sue lies deliberately because she wants to comfort Johnsy, hoping to inspire her courage to survive. Sue's violations above show her sincere affection to Johnsy. All what she says are for the sake of Johnsy. The purpose of her was obviously to make Johnsy cheer up. 4. Dialogues between Sue and Old Behrman Though the true hero, Old Behrman appears only once and speaks twice in the whole story, what he says successfully reveals his affection to two young artists.
"Paint?-bosh! Has she anything on her mind worth thinking about twice-a man, for instance?" "A man?" said Sue, with a jews'-harp twang in her voice. "Is a man worth-but no, doctor; there is nothing of the kind." Typically, people use echo questions to indicate that they are not sure whether they have heard or understand what the addresser have said. The two rhetorical questions here, "Paint?" and "A man?", are asked for on purpose other than to obtain the information, as there is no obvious reason to suppose that they haven't heard the sentence clearly, or that it is difficult for them to understand the two easy words. "Paint?" and "A man?" are expressions of feelings--the doctor's surprise and Sue's despise. Moreover, Sue adds another rhetorical question "Is a man worth". Then her implicature is at once made apparent by her saying that "-but no, doctor; there is nothing of the kind." which shows she understands her friend very well and they share with each other the dreams and hopes. From the discussions above, we can see through the dialogues that Sue and Johnsy give mutual help and relief in time of poverty and that Sue is willing to go through thick and thin with Johnsy. And Old Behrman's noble spirit--Saving other people at the risk of his own life. After analyzing dialogues based on Cooperative Principles,we now understand the characters' relationship and its theme better. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1
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