"The Lady or the Tiger" by Frank Stockton is a unique story to read with students. With an ambiguous ending, students get a chance to use their detective skills to decide the man's fate. Did the princess send her lover to his death, or did she swallow her jealousy and send him to another woman? Students also get to practice their creative writing skills by finishing the resolution; this often produces considerable insight to the type of students I have in my class. Will they kill the handsome young man? Spare him? Create a paradoxical surprise ending? The choice is up to the reader!
In ancient times, a king uses poetic justice to decide if a person is innocent or guilty. The accused is allowed to choose between two doors. Behind one door is a ferocious tiger, behind the other is a fair maiden to whom the person is married immediately.
The daughter of the king falls in love with a handsome commoner. The king discovers this and the youth is sentenced to choose his fate.
The king chooses the worst beast in all the kingdom, and the fairest maiden. The princess is already jealous of the maiden's previous interactions with her lover. Through bribery, the princess learns which door contains the lady, and which the tiger.
The day arrives, and the handsome youth is in the arena. He looks to the princess, and she motions to the right.
The man goes to the door.
The author leaves the reader not knowing what was behind the door. He asks the reader to consider the princess and her attributes, and to decide for ourselves.