How did relatives send their loved ones off to sea in Chapter Two of The Cay?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter Two, Philip leaves his father behind and boards a boat with his mother that will take them to safety in the United States. However, it is clear that this chapter also focuses on the fear and panic that was caused by German submarines that had torpedoed the S. S. Empire Tern, a big British tanker that some people had tried to flee on. In terms of Philip's development as a character, this was the first time that he realised the true nature of war rather than just thinking it would be exciting. It is therefore with some fear and trepidation that he and his mother boards the ship that they hope will keep them safe. Traditionally, there were customs associated with saying farewell to friends and relatives when they left on a ship, as the following quote suggests:

In the tradition, people brought flowers and wine. It was almost like sailing in the days before the war, they told me.

It is interesting how people maintained such traditions even during the time of fear and uncertainty. Perhaps the reason why they clung so tightly onto such traditions was to give themselves the impression that things were just as they always were and to inject some normalcy into the proceedings, that otherwise were fraught with trepidation.

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