How does Phillip's mother help Timothy in The Cay?     

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Timothy, the old sailor who rescued Phillip following the sinking of their ship, never met Phillip's mother, so she in no way "helped" Phillip during the story. If anything, she hindered the relationship between Phillip and Timothy, since she had taught her son to mistrust black people. Phillip's mother, Grace, loved her earlier life in Norfolk, and Phillip assumed that one of the reasons she wasn't happy on Curacao and was homesick for Virginia was because "there weren't as many black people around." Phillip's bias against black men became evident on the raft when he discarded his father's advice to always call older men "mister." Instead, Phillip called the old sailor Timothy; "Besides, he was black."

     ... I was now beginning to believe my mother was right. She didn't like them.
     She'd say... "They are not the same as you, Phillip. They are different and they live differently. That's the way it must be."

Timothy did defend Phillip's mother, however. When Phillip blamed his situation on his mother for deciding to leave the island, Timothy cautioned him,

"She started dis terrible wahr, eh, young bahss?"

After Phillip's rescue, he saw a change come over his mother. She now seemed happy living in Willemstad.

She had changed in many ways. She had no thoughts of leaving the islands now.

mkcapen1 | Student

In the book The Cay Phillip and his family are trying to escape to another area because of the war when their ship is torpedoed.  He is hit in the head and blinded.  Phillip awakens on a small craft with Timothy, a man from the Caribbean.  Phillip can not see him and does not understand when he laughs.

Phillip thinks back to a time in St.  Anna Bay when he and Henrik had been playing and black people had been laughing and thrown them bananas.  He had told his mother about the incident.  She had explained to him that black people were not like them.  She said they behaved differently and lived differently.  Phillip uses this information because he can not relate to Timothy.