"The Lady or the Tiger? focuses primarily on the theme of choices, and more specifically how emotion can influence one's decisions. The title itself, "The Lady or the Tiger?" reveals the dramatic nature of one of the choices which must be made in the short story. The handsome young hero who had rashly loved the princess now faces doom if he chooses the wrong door in the arena; however, the princess faces a dire choice of her own as well. She discovered the secret of the doors, and holds her lover's fate in her own hand. She could choose to save his life, only to see him wed another, or be forced to watch as a vicious tiger attacks him in the arena.
Ultimately, Stockton places the choice in the readers' hands by leaving the ending of the story open and the outcome, unknown. The reader must consider all that they know of the "hot-blooded, semi-barbaric" princess to determine her final decision in the arena.