In John Keating’s first and last scenes in the book, characters stand on desks in his classroom: in his first scene, he stands on the desk, and in the final scene, his students do—an apt symbol for how Keating passes on his own spirit and wisdom to his young disciples. Standing on the desk, as Keating says explicitly in the book, symbolizes seeing the world from another point of view; that is, challenging traditional ideas and stereotypes in order to be free.
Standing on the Desk Quotes in Dead Poets Society
As Nolan started down the aisle toward him, Knox, on the other side of the room, called out Mr. Keating's name and stood up on his desk too. Nolan turned toward Knox. Meeks mustered up his courage and stood up on his desk. Pitts did the same. One by one, and then in groups, others in the class followed their lead, standing on their desks in silent salute to Mr. Keating.