Describe how one should behave in a crisis. Did Phillip's mother do the appropriate things in "The Cay"? Give reasons for your answer.

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a crisis, it is imperative not to panic.  Despite the possible need for quick action, it is crucial to remain clear-headed, and as much as possible to think before acting.  Also, it is important to think of the needs of others as well as one's own.

Despite her earlier stubborn, petulant behavior, I think Phillip's mother acted admirably when their boat was torpedoed.  As Phillip recalls, his mother "was very calm, not at all like she was at home".  She "talked quietly while she got dressed", and gave clear instructions to Phillip, seeing that he got himself properly ready to abandon ship as well.  Phillip's mother made sure that they both put on their life jackets, and she reminded Phillip about the instructions they had been given about reacting in a potential crisis situation onboard.  Even through the tumult of a second explosion, Phillip's mother maintained her self-possession, safely leading her son to where men were waiting to help at the lifeboats. 

It appears that Phillip's mother did everything that she could to ensure her survival and that of her son.  Sadly, once they were thrown into the water from the pitching lifeboat, there was nothing more she could do to save herself or take care of her son's safety (Chapter 3).