Chapters 8-10 Summary

Timothy gets to work immediately, constructing a shelter out of palm fronds. After a few hours he is done and proudly helps Phillip run his hands over a sturdy hut large enough to fit both of them comfortably. Despite Phillip’s protests, Timothy then goes down to the reef to fetch some langosta. Phillip is still terrified about being left alone and thinks resentfully that his mother was right—Negroes “had their place” and were clearly “different.”

When Timothy returns, triumphantly bearing three large lobsters, Phillip refuses to speak to him. Timothy responds by telling him softly, “Young bahss, be an outrageous mahn if you like, but ’ere I’m all you got.” After they eat, Timothy seems very tired. As they settle in for the night, Phillip asks him how old he is. Timothy says that he is “more dan seventy,” and Phillip reflects that he is very old—“old enough to die there.”

In the morning, Timothy constructs a signal fire on the beach and enlists Phillip’s aid in arranging rocks to “say somethin’ on d’san’.” Although Timothy does not admit it openly, Phillip realizes that he cannot spell. Using a stick, Phillip draws out the letters H-E-L-P on the sand, and Timothy happily arranges the rocks, following the lines Phillip has made.

Later that afternoon, Timothy begins making a rope that will stretch from the hut down to the beach and fire pile. While he is engaged in this activity, he tells Phillip that he “mus’ begin to help wid d’udder wark” and shows him how to weave sleeping mats. Phillip tries at first but quickly becomes frustrated and throws the palm fibers at the old man, screaming epithets at him. Timothy slaps Phillip sharply once, then he returns quietly to his own task. After pouting, Phillip realizes that the rope Timothy is making is for him, to enable him to get around the island by himself. Something begins to change within Phillip from that moment,...

(The entire section is 672 words.)