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Titanic: The Problem With Rose Changing Her Surname To Honor Jack

Rose changed her name to “Rose Dawson” at the end of Titanic to honor Jack, but there are a couple of problems with that gesture that wouldn’t have allowed her to live her new life in full peace. After exploring genres like horror (Piranha II: The Spawning), sci-fi (The Terminator), and action-comedy (True Lies), James Cameron delved into disaster films in 1997 with Titanic, his most ambitious project at the time. Titanic was a massive critical and commercial success, but that doesn’t mean it has been safe from plot holes and inconsistencies.

Titanic is based on the accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 and tells the story of Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), two passengers from different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage. Over the course of just four days, Rose and Jack meet and fall in love, but their relationship, as strong as it was in a short amount of time, wasn’t meant to be. Sadly, Jack ends up being one of the many victims of the sinking of the Titanic, while Rose manages to survive after drawing the attention of one of the officers in command of one of the lifeboats.

Related: Titanic: What Happened To The REAL Rose, Beatrice Wood

Titanic is told through the perspective of older Rose (played by Gloria Stuart), who after the tragic sinking of the ship started a new life and left the old one behind, to the point where not even her family was aware of it. In order to have a fresh start after the tragedy, Rose changed her last name from “DeWitt Bukater” to “Dawson” to honor Jack and their relationship, and this is shown when the survivors are rescued by the RMS Carpathia. There, Rose hid among the steerage passengers and when asked for her name, she replied “Rose Dawson” – but as emotionally satisfying as this moment is, many viewers have pointed out the problems that come with it.

A Reddit user explained why Rose changing her last name to “Dawson” wouldn’t have given her the calm new life she hoped for, and it all begins with Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), her abusive fiancé, and her mother, Ruth (Frances Fisher), who pushed her to marry Cal to keep their high-society status. Cal is seen looking for her in the Carpathia, and with the lists of survivors being published days later, it would be hard to believe that Cal and Ruth wouldn’t notice a “Rose Dawson” among the passengers, knowing well that “Dawson” was Jack’s last name – though, of course, it could have also passed as the name of a third-class passenger. Another important detail is the fact that Rose became an actress in the following years, which is the least quiet and private career she could have had, so of course, someone, especially those close to her like Cal and Ruth, would have had to recognize her (and as the Redditor points out, there’s a 17 years gap between the sinking of the Titanic and Cal’s suicide in 1929, so he surely saw her at some point).

Other Reddit users have pointed out that it could have been fairly easy for Rose to go unnoticed for years as her name could have gotten lost in transcriptions and comparisons to the original passengers list, which didn’t even have a “Jack Dawson” to begin with. Others have suggested that Cal and Ruth might have not even remembered Jack’s last name, as they saw him as insignificant, so remembering something as simple as his last name was a waste of time. Ultimately, by changing her last name to “Dawson”, Rose not only honored Jack but also finally managed to break free from all those society chains that were holding her back, though why Cal and Ruth didn’t recognize her when she became an actress is up to each viewer’s imagination.

Next: Titanic True Story: How Much Of The Movie Is Real

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