“Never let go,” Jack says to Rose with his dying breath.
He means this literally, just a tiny bit: Do not let go of this piece of wood that is preventing you from dying a slow, cold, watery death. He means this figuratively, a whole lot: Never let go of the time we shared and the memories we made and the lesson I taught you that love is real and there are beautiful things in this world to live for, etc.
Those are good things not to let go of. You know what is not a good thing to stubbornly cling to? The belief that both Jack and Rose could have been saved from a slow, cold, watery death. They couldn’t. Even if the board was big enough (questionable), and even if it was sturdy enough (even more questionable), Jack barely had the breath to tell Rose never to let go, and Rose barely had the strength to blow that whistle to call for help. Do you think those two weaklings in the early stages of rapidly-advancing hypothermia had it in them to hoist a full-grown man onto a freezing, half-submerged, unstable surface?
No. No, they did not. So let us make the 20th anniversary of Titanic the one where we leave this debate behind for good. Jack is dead. Long live Rose. Our hearts will go on. Hey, though, don’t feel bad! That doesn’t mean we have to entirely abandon the time-honored tradition of debating Titanic! Here are 10 more perfectly good arguments to have with your friends once you’ve wiped your eyes and blown your nose and questioned whether you’ve ever truly experienced love after re-watching Titanic. Enjoy!
Is Titanic feminist?
This is truly a good debate to have about literally anything, and Titanic gives you a lot to talk about. Rose thinks for herself! She drinks! She reads! She does lifeboat math! But when she decides to pose for Jack, is she empowering herself or objectifying herself? Is Jack’s cry that he is “king of the world” a reassertion of the patriarchy???
Is Cal misunderstood?
Obviously Cal is a monster. Or is he?!
Could Rose really go en pointe?
I’ve read Edith Wharton, okay, so I know that elegant ladies at the turn of the century liked to practice archery and perform tableaux. But how likely is it that Rose was an accomplished-enough ballerina to casually go en pointe? Is advanced ballet technique such an important element of ladylike deportment in high society that it would have been included in Rose’s finishing school curriculum? Or was it just a highly convenient way for Rose to demonstrate in third class that she’s tougher than she looks?
Is Jack actually a good artist?
His French girls must have thought so. Do you???
Is the ‘Heart of the Ocean’ a stupid name for a priceless jewel?
Don’t even pretend it isn’t.
Is Molly Brown really unsinkable?
Just because she doesn’t sink doesn’t mean she can’t. Rose doesn’t sink either — does that make her unsinkable? What about Cal? Do you think Molly Brown would have welcomed a scientific test of her unsinkability? I think she wouldn’t. Also worth discussion: Maybe she only narrowly avoided sinking out of pure luck, but was in fact unfreezable. And furthermore:
Does the inclusion of real historical figures enhance or interfere with the fictional love story?
We would probably all be a lot happier if we could just concern ourselves with whether Jack is a good artist rather than whether Molly Brown is a good human flotation device.
Did Rose ever let go?
She takes the name Dawson and sails all the way back to the wreckage as an old woman. That’s never letting go, right? But she also married someone else and dropped the diamond in the ocean. Do those things constitute letting go? And actually, while we’re on the subject:
Should Old Rose have dropped the Heart of the Ocean overboard?
Was it symbolic of her letting go, after having been explicitly told she never should? Or does the dropped diamond represent herself, Rose, joining her beloved, Jack, in the spot where he died a slow, cold, watery death decades prior? But is that notion undermined by the diamond’s significance as a symbol of Cal’s purchase of Rose? Did she keep it all those years just to look at it and laugh thinking about how hard he must have searched for it? Did she keep it all those years planning to one day sail back to the spot where she lost the love of her life and almost died herself and just drop it? And honestly, was it really hers to throw away in the first place? It was rather an important historic artifact, and just abandoning it at the bottom of the North Atlantic it pretty irresponsible. Why didn’t she sell it? That would have been sensible! Why didn’t she donate it? That would have been selfless! Why does she drop it, when that is neither sensible nor selfless? Lots to unpack with this one!
Will Céline Dion’s heart go on?
All evidence points to yes, but still worth considering.