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Literature / Titanic

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Titanic is a young adult novel trilogy by Gordon Korman taking place aboard the titular ocean liner on her maiden voyage. It surrounds the lives of four youths:

  • Paddy Burns is a young pickpocket from Belfast who gets separated from his friend when a local gangster catches them stealing his money. In his getaway, Paddy manages to stow away on the Titanic as she leaves the shipyard where she was built. Now all he has to remember his friend by is a drawing… which his friend said could be how the "unsinkable" liner could go down. But even on the most luxurious ship on the waves, a stowaway has bigger problems…
  • Alfie Huggins is an English boy whose income is threatened with the disappearance of his mother. So he signs onto the Titanic as a steward so he could be with his father, a stoker. However, in order to get the job, Alfie has to lie about his age…
  • Sophie Bronson, daughter of a firebrand American suffragist, is rather embarrassed by her mother's political activities – which are the reason she and her mother are escorted aboard the Titanic in handcuffs…
  • Juliana Glamm is the daughter of the hedonistic Earl of Glamford, who hopes to enter talks with an American oil magnate once the Titanic arrives in America. But she can't fathom why she has to accompany him…

As these four characters' stories intersect, keeping Paddy hidden proves to be even trickier than expected, and they soon discover that a notorious murderer may be among the ship's passengers, and that's before the Titanic starts pulling into icy waters…

Not to be confused with the stage play, or the James Cameron movie.

This book series provides examples of:

  • Afterlife Welcome: When Alfie dies, he finds himself in Titanic's First Class Stairway, reunited with his parents.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parent: Sophie and Juliana wind up bonding over having to deal with these: the former for to her mother's activism, the latter for her father's gambling and drinking.
  • Ambiguous Situation: We never find out exactly what happened to Alfie's mother. At first, it's strongly implied that she either died or abandoned Alfie so suddenly that the White Star Line didn't get the memo. But in Book Three, Alfie's Afterlife Welcome strongly implies that she died.
  • Arranged Marriage: The Earl of Glamford plans to marry off his daughter to a rich oil baron's son for his money.
  • Artful Dodger: Paddy and to a lesser extent, Daniel.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Paddy, Sophie, and Juliana all survive the sinking, as does Sophie's mother, but Alfie isn't so fortunate. Neither is his father, or Juliana's. However, the death of Juliana's father frees her from her impending Arranged Marriage, and now she has a lasting friendship with Sophie, and a new adopted sister, and Paddy is able to find new opportunities in America, and is even reunited with Daniel.
  • The Bore: Major Muttonchop– er, Mountjoy, thanks to his prattling nature and endless stories about the Boer War, his school days, etcetera…
  • Dramatic Irony: We all know what happens to the ship, right?
    • Played With in that Daniel actually anticipates very early on how the Titanic's watertight bulkheads could be circumvented, but his idea for how it could happen doesn't reach the ship's designer, Thomas Andrews, until it's too late.
  • Establishing Character Moment: We are first introduced to Sophie and her mother at a suffragist demonstration in London. Not only do we see Amelia's hardline attitude and how embarrassed Sophie is by it, but when a suffragist is beaten by a police officer for defending her mother, Sophie attacks the officer, showing that Sophie isn't quite as different from her mother as she thinks.
  • Evil Cripple: Robert Masterson, whose condition is the only thing keeping him from his previous line of work. In fact, it's shown that apart from his injuries, he's still very physically capable.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Class conflict is an undercurrent in the series, with Paddy's scrounging background, Alfie's working-class background, Sophie and her mother's bourgeois activism, and Juliana's aristocratic background being contrasted with one another, and the Titanic's separations of first class from steerage, and passengers from crew setting these boundaries in stone.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Noticeable with Paddy (Sanguine), Alfie (Choleric), Juliana (Melancholic), and Sophie (Phlegmatic).
  • Going Down with the Ship:
    • Captain Smith, as in reality.
    • Thomas Andrews, Titanic's designer, as in other depictions of the sinking. Worth noting is that this account has been challenged (as the one person who claimed this happened left the ship half an hour before it sank), and more recent evidence suggests he tried to assist other passengers in the ship's final moments. Korman's book splits the difference, showing him checking through the ship for any stragglers, but then after finally seeing Daniel's drawing, he explains to Paddy that he doesn't intend to leave.
      "I was with the Titanic from the first rivet, and I'll be with her the rest of the way. I owe her that much."
  • The Gambling Addict: One of the Earl of Glamford's many vices. He's even gambling as the ship goes down… Naturally, he's winning for once.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sophie attempts to pull one when her mother objects to "women and children first," and refuses to board a lifeboat before the men, but still asks that Sophie board one. After Sophie fails to talk her out of staying aboard, she asks her for a hug goodbye, and uses it to force her mother into a nearly full lifeboat, and it is lowered without her. However, it's Subverted in that Sophie survives the sinking anyway.
  • Hope Spot: When the Titanic pulls into Queenstown, Paddy hopes to sneak onto the tender to return to Ireland, but a surprise run-in with Kevin Gilhooey kiboshes the plan.
  • I Am the Noun: A variation:
    Kevin Gilhooey: "You're protecting a criminal! The White Star Line will hear about this!"
    J. Bruce Ismay (stepping forward): "The White Star Line has already heard. I am J. Bruce Ismay, the managing director. How do you do?"
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Earl of Glamford, as a result of his Conspicuous Consumption and gambling addiction, hence his discussions with an American oil baron about marrying his daughter off to one of his sons.
  • Inspector Javert: Second Officer Charles Lightoller has shades of this – especially where tracking down Paddy is concerned. He doesn't give up until he and Paddy are both clinging onto an overturned lifeboat.
  • It's All My Fault:
    • Paddy tends to blame himself for everything, in particular Daniel's supposed death, and later for Alfie's (real) death.
    • Juliana also gets hit with this trope in Book Two after she unwittingly leads Lightoller to Paddy, which makes Alfie concerned for his job – and his father's.
    • Thomas Andrews expresses this in Book Three, as he decides to go down with the ship that he designed.
  • Jack the Ripper: In Book One, Paddy and Alfie discover evidence indicating that he is aboard the Titanic. Book Two reveals him to be Robert Masterson, who had to end his killings due to injuries he sustained in a carriage accident.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Paddy's decision to free Kevin Gilhooey and Seamus from the brig leads to Gilhooey reuniting him with Daniel and even giving him a cash reward.
  • Little Stowaway: Little kid and pickpocket Paddy sneaks onboard the Titanic just as she was beginning to leave the shipyard to hide from a mobster whose pockets he tried to steal from.
  • Nobility Marries Money: The Earl of Glamford's real plans for Juliana were to marry her off to one of an American oil millionaire's sons so he could get at his money. Juliana herself doesn't take this revelation well.
  • Parental Abandonment: Alfie's mother seems to have departed suddenly at some point prior to Book 1, and his father was already at sea for most of the time.
  • Persona Non Grata: Amelia and Sophie Bronson are being deported from England aboard the Titanic after one of Amelia's demonstrations turned violent.
  • Pet the Dog: As thanks for saving him and Seamus in the sinking, Kevin Gilhooey arranges for Daniel to be brought to America so Paddy can see him.
  • Rags to Riches: Sort of. The little girl Paddy rescues from Third Class as the Titanic sinks is too young to say who her parents are, and it's assumed that they died in the sinking, so Juliana adopts her as a little sister.
  • Really 17 Years Old: Alfie lies about his age in order to get the steward's job.
  • Robbing the Mob Bank: What gets Paddy and Daniel in trouble with Kevin Gilhooey.
  • Save the Villain: Paddy's decision to free Gilhooey and Seamus from the brig as the Titanic sinks.
  • Straw Misogynist: Robert Masterson is decidedly misogynistic, even by the standards of the time. This serves as an indication that he didn't treat women that well in his past line of work
  • Soapbox Sadie: Amelia Bronson, much to her daughter's embarrassment.
  • Tears of Joy: In Book Three, Amelia Bronson when she finds Sophie alive and well on the Carpathia. It's the first time Sophie ever sees her mother cry.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Major Mountjoy, or "Major Muttonchop" as Juliana calls him.
    • The Earl of Glamford too, but it's not portrayed as comedically.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Alfie's father was this for much of Alfie's life, what with him being a White Star Line stoker and said job meaning he'd be out at sea away from his son.