Phillip has few if any black friends while living on the island of Curacao. He seems to be influenced by his mother: A native of Virginia, she does not care for black people, and her son has inherited her prejudice against black skin. When Phillip first gets a look at Timothy, he considers him ugly; when Phillip discovers that Timothy can't read or write, the boy thinks he is ignorant. But Phillip soon discovers that Timothy is a kind and wise man. Phillip's blindness serves to show both his helplessness and dependance upon Timothy, but it also helps him understand that the relevance of a person's skin is only in the eye of the beholder. The warmth of Timothy's body becomes more important than the color of his skin, and Phillip soon comes to love and respect the old sailor.
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