Why does Frank Stockton switch from third-person omniscient point of view to second-person point of view at the end of "The Lady or the Tiger?" 

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Frank Stockton's "The Lady or the Tiger" uses multiple narrative perspectives. The story opens with the third person narrator telling the story of a semi-barbaric king, his daughter, and her lover. The story follows, chronologically, the situation which erupts from the daughter loving one beneath her. Her father, the king, decides that the lover must face his arena. In this arena, the accused must face two doors: one which holds a tiger (ready to rip the accused apart), the other holds a lady (to whom the accused will be immediately married). 

At the end of the tale, when the reader expects to be told what comes out of the door, the narrative voice changes. The narrative voice is no longer third person; instead, the narrative voice is presented in first person. The speaker of the tale addresses the reader ("you") and asks the reader which came out of the door: the lady or the tiger?

One can states that Stockton does this in order to engage the reader and get the reader to think about the outcome. This forces the reader to characterize the princess and her demeanor. Readers must question what kind of person they think the princess to be and argue if the tiger or lady emerged from the door.  Stockton wants readers, as illustrated by the change in narrative voice, to consider the story, become active in reading. 

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