In "The Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton, when the young man was in the arena, what did the princess do, and what did he do?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The semi-barbaric princess fell in love with a young man who was beneath her social station in "The Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton, and the young man ends up in the arena. In the arena, the semi-barbaric king blithely allows justice to happen. He considers this to be the most impartial justice because the accused gets to choose a door, which means his fate is in his own hands.

Behind one door is a ravishing beauty and behind the other is a ravenous tiger; the accused will marry the former or be eaten by the latter and justice will be perfectly served. In this case, the young lover enters the arena with absolute confidence, knowing beyond all doubt that the princess, the woman he loves, has discovered the "secret of the doors." So, the first thing he does is meet her eyes. She is pale and nervous, but she returns his gaze and her lover can see that he was right--she does know behind which door is the lady and behind which door is the tiger.

He had expected her to know it. He understood her nature, and his soul was assured that she would never rest until she had made plain to herself this thing, hidden to all other lookers-on, even to the king. The only hope for the youth in which there was any element of certainty was based upon the success of the princess in discovering this mystery; and the moment he looked upon her, he saw she had succeeded, as in his soul he knew she would succeed.

Immediately the young man looks at the princess and silently asks her which door he should pick; the princess must answer quickly and she does. While everyone else's eyes are on the handsome young man, he sees the princess make an almost imperceptible gesture with her hand, indicating he should open the door to her right. The young man turns briskly and walks to the door on the right and, without hesitation, opens it. The story does not end there, but that is the last action that occurs in the arena. 

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