Discussion Topic

Phillip's emotions in chapters 1-7 of The Cay

Summary:

In chapters 1-7 of The Cay, Phillip experiences a range of emotions. Initially, he feels excitement and curiosity about the war, but this quickly turns to fear and confusion when he is separated from his mother. Stranded at sea with Timothy, Phillip's emotions shift to frustration, anger, and helplessness as he grapples with his blindness and dependency.

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How would you characterize Phillip's emotions in chapters 4-7 of The Cay?

Throughout The Cay, Philip undergoes a transformation from being spoiled and inconsiderate to having greater self-awareness and respect for others. A significant part of this change is overcoming the racism that this white boy's family instilled in him. The experiences of being blinded, orphaned, stranded, fearful, and dependent on a black man combine to force the boy to confront his assumptions and to develop trust in a person who he had been raised to view as inferior.

Initially he has no choice but to accept Timothy's kindness and care, although he lashes out at him. The child's resentment gradually fades away, and he becomes capable of imagining a relationship of friendship and equality. Although he cannot pinpoint the nature of the change, he can express his desire: "I want to be your friend," he tells Timothy, who states that he always has been his friend.

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How does Phillip feel in chapters 1-7 of The Cay?

Phillip experiences a wide range of emotions and undergoes profound changes during the first seven chapters of the novel. At the beginning, he is a boy in love with the island and curious about the once distant events of World War II. Now, however, the Germans have attacked, destroying an oil refinery on neighboring Aruba and then "they blew up six of our small lake tankers." U-boats are spotted off Willemstad, and Phillip revels in the opportunity to see one from a distance. In Chaper 2, Phillip is "saddened" to leave Curacao when it is decided that it will be safer for him and his mother back in Virginia. When the S.S. Hato is torpedoed, Phillip is left stranded upon a raft with an old sailor, Timothy. Separated from his mother, Phillip soon becomes blind and totally dependent upon Timothy. He is "frightened" and "angry at Timothy for not letting me stay in the water with my mother." Phillip is uncertain about Timothy's decision to put ashore on the little uncharted cay, and when Timothy goes off alone to explore, he feels "helpless." When Timothy returns, Phillip tells him to "Never leave me alone..." Chapter 7 ends with Phillip "slowly and thoughtfully" considering Timothy's new admission: that the small cay is part of the Devil's Mouth, a treacherous area where few ships sail, and that their stay on the island may be longer than expected.

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