Titanic’s Echo: How the Tragedy Continues to Resonate in the Modern Age
On March 22, 2024 | 0 Comments

By Rebecca Connolly, author of A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice

The Titanic. It’s been over 110 years since the disaster involving that ship, and yet the name of it still holds weight. Everyone knows the story of the Titanic, to some degree, whether it’s from the film or history class or just the nature of our culture. Why? Why is Titanic and its disaster still so talked about and discussed? Why are we still fascinated by it? There have been other disasters that have occurred since its sinking; some of them have changed the world as we know it in even greater ways. But somehow, Titanic still has a hold on us.

I’ve given this some thought, especially while working on A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice and after its release, and I have a few ideas.

I’m not sure the world has ever gotten over the hype that Titanic was given before its maiden voyage. The certainty that it was the fastest, finest, and, most impressively, completely unsinkable ship in the seas. The fervor that the builders and managers and owners and crew and passengers all had over its majesty… It was the new way to travel and a new way to distinguish the classes in travel. Even those in steerage would be able to say that they got to America onboard the finest vessel ever created. Titanic was the NEXT BIG THING. Think of the biggest movie hype you’ve ever witnessed and multiply that.

And then it sank. It hit an iceberg and it sank. So many people died. People who were supposed to be able to brag about their voyage and feel fortunate about their accommodations. People who would look back upon their voyage fondly and with a whimsical air. People who would one day put their great-grandchildren upon their knee and say, ‘Back in my day, when Titanic was a brand-new ship…’

But none of that would happen. It shocked the entire world, whether they had family or friends on board or not. And we’ve never gotten over it. 

There’s the fact that such a great and mighty and well-built ship was taken out by an iceberg. Not a U-boat or fighter plane, as would happen in the years to follow, but a natural creation of the earth that was not an uncommon sight for any ship sailing this route. Something they had lookouts and measures in place for, and yet…

There’s the claims of man’s hubris outweighing his good sense. There’s speculation (mostly from the film) that the captain was pressured by White Star reps to be risky. There’s conspiracy theories galore, if you know where to look.

It’s a tragedy that never should have happened. Something no one saw coming and no one could have predicted. It just doesn’t make sense, even now. And our minds don’t sit well with things that don’t make sense.

So we stay fixated on it. We still care about it. We go to museums about it and watch documentaries about it and read books about it (thanks for that!) and write musicals about it. People still want to go to look at the wreckage and buy memorabilia and cosplay its passengers.

We still care about Titanic because it’s a mystery. I mean, it isn’t, we know quite a lot about it now, but it feels like a mystery. We want to know more. We want to hear all of the stories about it. We want to break down the events of April 14th and 15th 1912 minute by minute and have the whole thing analyzed. We want to know the love stories of those on board (or not, ahem). We want to know about who was saved and we want to know about who died. We still want to know what went wrong.

We want to understand the Titanic, and we want to go back in time and fix it. 

But what if we did? What if we could?

What lessons would never have been passed on? What warnings would never be given?

The Titanic would not be THE TITANIC if we could go back and fix it all. It would just be another one of those fancy ships that made transatlantic voyages back in the day, and its luster would be gone.

So it lives on in our minds, still glowing and bright and shining, until it hits the iceberg and becomes the greatest tragedy of all. Because when it does, Titanic becomes eternal and ethereal. Untouchable.

And somehow, in spite of everything, still unsinkable.

Rebecca Connolly is the author of more than two dozen novels. She calls herself a Midwest girl, having lived in Ohio and Indiana. She’s always been a bookworm, and her grandma would send her books almost every month so she would never run out. Book Fairs were her carnival, and libraries are her happy place. She received a master’s degree from West Virginia University.

Now in Paperback! A BRILLIANT NIGHT OF STARS AND ICE: Based on the remarkable true story of the Carpathia—the one ship and her legendary captain who answered the distress call of the sinking Titanic.