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In the story "The Lady or the Tiger?", the ending is not written for the reader, but the author gives the reader the power to choose what happens. It is my opinion that living in a kingdom with a 'semi-barbaric' king, the princess will point to the tiger. Her beloved will be killed by the tiger so that she does not have to watch him live happily with another woman when she wants him for herself. I believe that because she has lived her life under the influence of the king who is labeled 'semi-barbaric', she will not be merciful as that is not what she has learned. I also don't think that she would want to watch him live his life happily married to a woman other than herself. She wants him for herself or for no one. I'm glad that you added the why to this question as it elevates the question into a higher level.
I don't think there are any clues in the story to suggest the ending. I think Stockton has actually given just enough evidence to point towards both outcomes. What makes this tale so compelling is that we are left to write the ending for ourselves, which greatly increases our enjoyment of it.
I do believe that there are context clues in the short story that suggest what she may have chosen. For instance, she is described as "fervent," "imperils," and barbaric. The author shows us that this is one stance in which the apple does not all too far from the tree. The author describes her as arrogant and even states that "savage blood [was] transmitted through long lines of wholly barbaric ancestors." The princess hated the lady behind the door and was passionately jealous. The author states that while many times the princess thought in horror of the man being devoured by the lion, she thought even more times of the lady winning her love. The princess is not described as the sort of woman who would sacrifice her own life and happiness for the sake of one she loves. Therefore, sad to say, the princess chose the tiger.
It seems to me that the quandary of this story is that of making a true assessment of human nature--human nature as revealed in the princess's characterization, at any rate. If we accept both sides--the loving and the imperial--of the characterization of the princess, are we willing to accept the outcome of the exercise of that characterization? After many years of insisting upon the princess's sacrificial love for the young man because it would be too horrible if she sacrificed the young man, I agree that textual evidence gives ample indication that her characterization points to only one satisfactory end for her--regardless of the young man's faith in her. She sent him to the door with the tiger.
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