She is a young artist who works for a magazine. She is caring and supportive of her friend Sue. She is also very positive and optimistic when it comes to tough situations.
She even pays the bills for doctor and food during Johnsy’s illness. It’s her insistence that leads to Behrman’s decision to paint the leaf outside Johnsy’s room.
She shows bravery in a dire situation again when she informs her friend about Behrman’s tragic end.
Johnsy is a young artist who dreams of visiting Naples, Italy and paint the bay there. Even though she is strong and caring, she falls victim to depression after contracting pneumonia.
Her depression sinks her deeper into misery as she starts to see her life wither with shedding leaves of winter. However, she is revived by a painting made by her neighbour Behrman who paints an immaculate leaf outside her window.
She accepts her folly and weakness and fights on to live and paint for years to come. In a way, she becomes Behrman’s masterpiece.
He is a good-natured and compassionate doctor. He does everything in his power to cure Johnsy’s illness. However, he is quick to understand that Johnsy’s cure was as much medical as psychological. He assumes that she may be having relationship issues with a man but Sue denies that.
In the end, he is the one who encourages Sue to inquire about the mental state of Johnsy and indirectly helps in understanding her obsession with falling leaves. Finally, he is the person who breaks the sad news of Behrman’s pneumonia to Sue.
A man of diverse traits, Behrman is a man in the twilight of his career and life. He is old and angry because he feels unable to find inspiration for his ultimate masterpiece.
He offers to model for Sue for her illustration as he likes the two young artists. Seeing Johnsy’s predicament, he offers to help by painting a leaf even in inclement weather.
He finally achieves greatness through that painting and in its ability to provide hope to Johnsy. However, he pays the ultimate sacrifice with his life as he succumbs to pneumonia himself.