I saw Dead Poets Society. Neil's parents were responsible for his death not John. Then why was the administration so determined to expel him from the organization?

  • 1
    Very related question: movies.stackexchange.com/q/612/49 (still not sure if it's an exact duplicate or not, but maybe).
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:15
  • yes that's very much similar to my questions.So what should I do,delete this Qus?
    – Rishi
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:25
  • After rereading that older question and its answers, I think your question is still a separate one, as the other answers agree with you that Keating was not responsible and your question why he was fired still stands. I'd say it is not a duplicate.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:26
  • yah,that part of my question is not entertained in that very similar one,that qus is more focused on who was responsible.
    – Rishi
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:28
  • 2
    Caution Downvoter: Would you be kind enough to tell us the reason why you downvoted?
    – Rishi
    Feb 10, 2014 at 9:06

2 Answers 2


First of all, it is not completely clear if there is anyone alone responsible for Neil's death and you might want to look into this related question to gain some further insights into this. But still, assuming Keating was not entirely responsible (which the answers there agree with), the question stands why he was fired.

You have to see the viewpoint of the school administration. If I remember correctly they, being rooted in their conservative ways, were to a large degree aversive to Keating's way of teaching self-determination and free will to those young men with his unconventional methods. So for them it was neither Neil's inability to confront his father, nor his father's strictness that drove him into suicide, but the "insubordination" and "fruitless ambitions" that Mr. Keating inspired him to.

And after such a big tragedy happened Keating was the best scapegoat to blame for Neil's death and firing him was maybe also to prevent further damage to the reputation of the school, as this suicide could become quite a big scandal. An additional factor may also be that Neil's parents (especially his father) of course also only saw Mr. Keating responsible (for exactly the above reasons) and maybe even applied some pressure to the school administration in order to get him fired.

So no matter if he was really responsible for Neil's death, he certainly was in the eyes of Neil's parents and the school administration and you are in fact supposed to be confused (or at least moved) by this injustice. The narrow-minded establishment has once again won against a single creative and idealistic man (yet his efforts were not completely fruitless, remember the "Oh captain, my captain"-scene).

(I should admit, though, that this answer is entirely based on my clouded memory of a movie I haven't seen for a very long time.)

  • OK,so what's the lesson we get from this movie?(another Question) :) Yes I remember the goose-bumping O captain my captain scene. Don't really get the meaning of that scene.
    – Rishi
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:45
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    @Rishi "Don't really get the meaning of that scene." - It said (at least for me, and if I remember the movie well enough), that while he was fired from the school and failed in Neil's case (even if it wasn't completely his fault at all), he did not fail with the students and he achieved to inspire some of his ideals in them. With this gesture they demonstrated their respect and gratitude for him and that they are on his side. But for anything deeper I don't have enough knowledge of the respective Walt Whitman-poem this line is from (if it even was Whitman). (maybe a good question, too?).
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 4, 2014 at 20:15
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    @NapoleonWilson Already +1 for the answer. Very good pointing out the School's (and Neil's Parent's) perceived need of a scapegoat as well as the failed hopes to limit the effect being seen for what it is by the students who support him in the end. Feb 5, 2014 at 3:40

When Keating passed on his book of poetry to be read at the meetings of the Dead Poets Society, I believe that that was sufficient grounds for his dismissal. He was condoning the creation of a secret and unsupervised club/organization that met off of school grounds. After Charlie Dalton received his paddling for revealing the existence of the D.P.S. in the school newspaper, Teacher Keating only mildly reprimanded him.

Now, the school may have very well just fired Keating for being a Maverick and as a scapegoat. Nevertheless, the administration have just cause to dismiss Mr. Keating.

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