When Phillip is first stranded at sea and then on an island with Timothy after Phillip's ship explodes, Phillip is dismissive and condescending towards Timothy. Phillip has learned from his mother that black people are inferior, and he treats Timothy as if the older man is his servant. In fact, Timothy calls Phillip "young bahss" to reflect the boy's attitude towards him.
Over time, Phillip recognizes Timothy's patience and wisdom, as Timothy teaches Phillip how to survive on the island after Phillip is blinded. Phillip has to rely entirely on Timothy, and he begins to recognize Timothy's humanity and to be concerned about him, as Timothy is concerned about him. During a tropical storm, Timothy makes the ultimate sacrifice, as he protects Phillip with his own body and dies as a result. By this time, Phillip mourns for his lost friend.