Ladies First

Despite fan theories, Rose could not fit Jack on raft, she should prioritize herself first

Ladies+First

I love the “Titanic” movie. It’s easily one of the most iconic movies of the 20th century and I would watch it a million times again—and yes, cry again during each tragic scene every single time. The story follows Rose, a high class young woman, who goes against her family’s wishes to see a new boy she met on a ship named Jack. Jack is the complete opposite of Rose; he’s poor and unruly, but he’ll do anything to make Rose feel happy and special. It’s the perfect move of star-crossed lovers, all in the backdrop of a huge tragedy—the Titanic shipwreck.
One of the most famous scenes in the movie is when Rose and Jack are in the freezing cold water after the shipwreck. Rose is floating on a piece of wood while Jack is in the water, and they say their last goodbyes to each other. It’s easily one of the most iconic and sad movie scenes to ever exist. But to some, it’s deeply controversial; they argue that Rose had plenty of space to pull Jack up from the water onto her raft and save him so they could live happily ever after.
Do I personally think Rose had space to fit on the raft? Yes, potentially. Do I think she should have pulled Jack up? Unfortunately, no. Now before I come across as a love-hater or a cynic, I think there’s a lot to unpack about why Rose didn’t share her “boat” with Jack at the end of the Titanic.
To start off, Jack dying is an integral part of the story and what makes it such a great tragedy. James Cameron, the film’s director, revealed 20 years after the film’s debut that he was happy the film was effective in making Jack so endearing that it hurt the audience so much to see him die. However, he argued that had Jack lived, the ending of the film would have been meaningless.
He said in an interview with Vanity Fair, “The film is about death and separation; he had to die. So whether it was that, or whether a smoke stack fell on him, he was going down. It’s called art, things happen for artistic reasons, not for physics reasons.”
And to me, this explanation makes sense. The reason people keep going back to watch the Titanic and love it so much is because it’s a tragedy. We know it’s a sad story, we know it’s going to make us emotional, and we know it has meaning. With Jack dying, the film does true justice to the real tragedy of the Titanic, where thousands of people lost their family members and felt the same pain that Jack and Rose did. Had Jack survived, the move would have lost its meaning and would have been like any other fairytale love story.
I love the classic “happily ever after love story” just as much as the next person, but I think the Titanic does a great job of capturing a real-life tragedy. It’s a film with a refreshing combination of humor, love, sadness, and meaning, and I think that’s truly why people cherish it so much.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the Acumen staff. Reach Sowmya Chundi at [email protected]