Study Guide

Dead Poets Society Tradition and Customs

Tradition and Customs

Tradition is one of Welton's "four pillars," and it is arguably the one most emphasized in Dead Poets Society. From the hallways filled with photographs of alumni to the rituals that have been performed for decades, Welton stands for excellence via tradition.

Without it, the Welton name would be meaningless (and not very useful at getting students into good colleges). So customs must be upheld. Students can't even begin classes before hearing a whole sermon about the importance of these traditions and customs.

Questions About Tradition and Customs

  1. Why is Tradition one of the first flags we see? Is the film foreshadowing something?
  2. What rituals emphasize the legacy of Welton? Does Headmaster Nolan explain them?
  3. How does the Headmaster tie the code of conduct to a sense of tradition? If students misbehave, are they breaking that tradition?
  4. How does Mr. Keating's class break Welton's tradition? Is this seen as a good or bad thing by the other members of the faculty? Why?

Chew on This

As soon as Mr. Keating breaks from the traditional style of teaching, the faculty wants him gone.

Tradition is so important at Welton that they don't even allow the students to own radios. What exactly are they trying to preserve?

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