Summer Reads: The Lady or the Tiger by Frank Stockton

14 Jul

This weekend, someone asked me if I liked short stories. Seeing as that was my chosen medium in college, I went on a short story tirade — she’s probably sorry she asked.


And so, this weeks summer reads are all short stories.  The great thing about them is they’re all so different. Different time periods, genres, lengths, feels, voices. 


And so, today’s short story is The Lady or the Tiger by Frank Stockton.


This is one of my favorite works because it never leaves you. I first read it in high school – freshman year – and could not stop thinking about the ending. What would be behind the door? Would her love equate with jealousy or protection? How would their being a barbaric people effect how she made her decision? Could I give up my soul mate to another person? Could I (no matter how barbaric my upbringing) watch him be torn apart by a vicious animal?


Years go by and every once in a while I pick it up and re-read it. Every time I come up with a new question. Every time I still don’t have an answer.


Stockton later wrote a little heard of sequel called The Discourager of Hesitancy which I have never read — out of fear. What are the chances that it will be a Godfather II and not a Speed 2? The question has captured my imagination for years, what if it’s been answered and the answer is less fulfilling than the ambiguity? What if. . . what if . . . what if. . . .


So, what work (short/full/novella/movie/poem/etc) has left you questioning things

3 Responses to “Summer Reads: The Lady or the Tiger by Frank Stockton”

  1. Destiny November 21, 2008 at 9:11 pm #

    i found the sequel. i am reading the book and if we find the sequel we get extra credit.

  2. briaq November 24, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    I should have added – I read it. If you loved Lady and the Tiger, this only adds to it… You don’t lose a thing reading it and gain something at the same time!

    Hope you enjoyed it too.

  3. Ellie March 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    The girl most likely picked the tiger. Base it on her personalities and the man’s decision.

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