How does Phillip's attitude towards black people change over the story?
What was Phillip's opinion of blacks was at the beginning and why? How did his opinion began to change when he was on the raft with Timothy?
In the early chapters of Theodore Taylor's novel, The Cay, we find that the main character, Phillip, has a youthful bias against the natives who live on the island of Curacao in the Dutch West Indies. Some of his ideology comes from his mother, a native of Virginia, who is unhappy living so far from home; Phillip tells Timothy later in the story that she does not like black people. When Phillip awakes to find Timothy with him on the raft, Phillip assumes he is African. He speaks in a haughty manner towards Timothy until one day on the island when Phillip calls him "ugly" and "stupid." Timothy slaps Phillip--and the slap actually seems to knock some sense into the boy. Timothy assures the boy that he " ' 'ave always been my friend.' " Shortly after, Phillip moves closer to Timothy to gain his warmth during the night. "He felt neither black nor white," Phillip decides. Assisted by his blindness, Phillip comes to discover Timothy's love and faithfulness. Timothy teaches Phillip as much as he can about existing on the island, worried that his own time of life may soon be coming to an end. When Timothy shields Phillip from the hurricane at the cost of his own life, Phillip knows he will never forget his huge, black friend. Upon his return to Willemstad,
I spent a lot of time along St. Anna Bay and the Ruyterkade market talking to the black people. I liked the sound of their voices. Some of them had known old Timothy from Charlotte Amalie. I felt close to them.