November 15, 2014 by genelup
When a cliffhanger ends in a short story, it really does end and the reader has to create in his own mind the conclusion. This is quite different from cliffhangers in movies and TV shows. They hook the viewer to wait for the sequel. I thought about cliffhangers last night when I read two classic short stories — “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton, and “Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and the Tar Baby,” by Joel Chandler Harris.
I kept waking up thinking how I would end those two stories. In The Lady, an evil king put men accused of crimes in an arena and they had to open one of two doors. Behind one door a tiger waited to kill the man, and the other door stood a beautiful woman who would marry the man.The king arrested a man who dated the his daughter. The daughter used bribery and knew where the tiger and another beautiful woman were. She signaled the accused man in the arena to open the door on the right. That’s when the story ended. Was he killed by the tiger, or did he marry the daughter’s competitor. Well, what do you think?
Brer Fox made a Tar Baby and led Brer Rabbit to fight it and of course Brer Rabbit got stuck in the Tar Baby. That’s when the story ended. Did the fox eat the rabbit, did Brer Bear that was mentioned briefly in the story rescued the rabbit? Or, did something else happened? Well, what do you think?
I’m still thinking about those two stories. I’ll eventually come up with a fantastic ending, I’m sure.