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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. In answer to queries about the ending of "The Lady or the Tiger?," Stockton made the following comment: "If you decide which it was—the lady, or the tiger, you find out what kind of a person you are yourself." What do you think he meant by that?

2. Compare a short story by the American writer O. Henry, whose work is famous for trick endings, to "The Lady or the Tiger?" Which story do you find more clever, and why?

3. Stockton was among the most popular and critically admired American authors of the late nineteenth century. What factors caused his works to fall out of favor?

4. Compare and contrast Stockton's style with that of another nineteenth-century American humorist, such as Mark Twain, Joel Chandler Harris, or Bret Harte.

5. Read "The Discourager of Hesitancy," Stockton's 1885 sequel to "The Lady or the Tiger?" What does the second story add to your understanding of the first?