In Titanic (1997), Rose says that people on the lifeboats would have to "wait for an absolution which would never come." I know she was saying that more because they didn't come back for people still in the water.

But at the same time, she did take a seat on a lifeboat, which she got off as it was being lowered, but it was too late to have someone take her place. So she too took a seat that one or more could have taken.

How she would have acted on a lifeboat is another question, though when Margaret "Molly" Brown protested that they should go get survivors, she was threatened to be thrown off the boat.

So I'm not sure if Rose's comment would apply to her. So did Rose think her actions didn't warrant any guilt?

3 Answers 3


I'm not 100% sure if it's only the fact that they didn't come back for the people in the water. It could also partly be a reference to survivor guilt (from Wikipedia):

Survivor guilt (or survivor's guilt; also called survivor syndrome or survivor's syndrome) is a mental condition that occurs when a person believes they have done something wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not, often feeling self-guilt.

Also, saying that they waited for an absolution didn't necessarily mean Rose herself thought those people were guilty although they might have felt guilty.

In the movie it's not clear if she blames herself. I would speculate that the fact that she really had to fight for survival gave her some kind of redemption in the end (these are after all somewhat irrational human emotions we are talking about).


Rose was convinced to take a seat in the lifeboat, she didn't intentionally displace someone (i.e. throw them out of the way), she was listening to Jack who told her it was the right thing to do. She was a woman, and so by "rights" she had a seat on a lifeboat as women and children are supposed to be the first saved.

Taking into the whole of Rose's character, it's likely she would have had survivor's guilt if she stayed in the lifeboat. She experienced it anyway when she survived on the makeshift raft (door) and Jack didn't.


This phrase doens't refer to the survivors. When she said that, Bruce Ismay is on the background (which was the Titanic's company director) and survived the disaster. In the following inquiries about the sinking, people never forgave him for having saved himself as opposed to give up his seat for women/children. His reputation was forever damaged and he never recovered from it, keeping a low profile afterwards. So the absolution never came.

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