The Lady or the Tiger?

Which door would you make the man choose?

In grade six, my teacher, Mr. Naismith pulled out a book of short stories.  He flipped through it until he reached the one he intended to read to his class of rambunctious students and then cleared his voice.

The story was about a man who had been caught with the Kings daughter.  He was sent into the arena (kind of like a gladiator stadium) to determine if he was guilty or not.

Two doors stood before him.  Behind one – was a vicious man-eating tiger that would destroy him as soon as he opened the door.  If he opened that one, that meant he was guilty and his punishment would be death.

If he was innocent, he would choose the second door and out would walk a beautiful maiden chosen from the village that he would immediately marry and walk off into the sunset with.

Before making his decision, the man turned to the King. Sitting beside the King was the Kings daughter – the one the man was in love with.  The man knew the princess would have found out what was behind each door.  She waved her hand to the right.

So, the man opened the door.

And that is where the author left the fate of the man up to us.  I still remember staring at Mr. Naismith with disbelief when he asked his class “And so I leave it with all of you: Which came out of the opened door – the lady, or the tiger?”

I didn’t recognize it back then – But at that exact moment, something changed inside of me.  I realized I no longer had to follow the story – I could CREATE the story.

(For those of you who want to read the story – It’s called “The Lady of The Tiger” by Frank R. Stockton and it was written in 1882.)

To this day, I still drift back to that story from time to time.  Over the years, my ending has changed.  Sometimes the man lives. Sometimes he dies. But either way, Mr. Stockton and Mr. Naismith both accomplished a goal.  I will always be imagining what the ending should have been.  I will always be a dreamer.


About adriennebarr

I love books!
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One Response to The Lady or the Tiger?

  1. adammcgregor says:

    I also remember that story, lead to some interesting conversations for that class (yes I know it wasn’t yours). Its an interesting conundrum as the mans fate is based on the knowledge he believes the daughter is giving him. Too many endings and questions can come out of that story.

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