Phillip is a young boy who has grown up being taught that he is somehow elevated above the black people. When Phillip finds himself ship wrecked and on a raft with a black man he is frightened, but he doesn't forget his "place" and neither does Timothy. Timothy calls Phillip "young Bahss" because he too knows that he his place among whites is subservient. While they begin the story with different places in the world, they share the same view point.
By the time they reach the island Phillip has gone blind. It is through their time on the island that these two different people find enough common ground to reverse roles and forget about color. Phillip begins to listen and trust Timothy because Timothy has sight and survival skills. Timothy begins to call Phillip "Philleep" now instead of "bahss". Each man now has different roles, but each one has the same goal- to survive and maintain this deeply rooted relationship.
In the end these two differently colored people see that in essence they are the same- they are people.