Discussion Topic

Timothy's legacy to Phillip in "The Cay" and its contribution to his survival

Summary:

Timothy's legacy to Phillip in "The Cay" is the survival skills and self-confidence he instills in him. These teachings enable Phillip to overcome his blindness and fend for himself after Timothy's death, significantly contributing to his survival on the cay.

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In Chapter 16 of The Cay, what legacy did Timothy leave for Phillip?

The storm has passed, but Timothy is dead, leaving the blind Phillip to survive alone on the island. After Phillip buries his friend's body, he begins the process of cleaning up around the camp and getting something to eat, and

... for the first time, I fully understood why Timothy had so carefully trained me to move about the island, and the reef... (Chapter 16

Timothy, who had only recently admitted that he was actually well over 70 years old, had done his best to prepare Phillip for when he might pass away. It had become evident that the two might be on the island "forever," and Timothy may have sensed that his days were numbered. He had looked after Phillip like a son, and Phillip's prejudice against Timothy's black skin had long disappeared. After his death, Phillip discovered a surprise gift from Timothy: a group of fishing poles, "at least a dozen... with a barbed hook and bolt sinker." Timothy had planned ahead for when the sightless Phillip would be alone, and the poles "were one more part of the legacy Timothy had left me."

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In "The Cay", what was Timothy's legacy to Philip and how did it contribute to his survival?

In the novel "The Cay," the most important thing that Timothy gave to Phillip was a self confidence in what he could accomplish, even with his handicap of being blind.  Timothy taught Phillip how to get around the island, how to fish, how to survive.  He instilled the self conficence  that Phillip needed.  He proves this by climbing the coconut tree and by rebuilding the shelter after Timothy died.  He survived even though he was alone and he was able to build the rescue fire under stressful conditions.  Even after Phillip was reunited with his family he realized he had changed.  He couldn't relate to his old friends in the same way because he had grown and matured.

Timothy also taught Phillip to look beyond the surface of things and people.  When they met Phillip looked at Timothy as "an ugly, stubborn old black man."  He believed that "his mother was right, these people are different than we are."  By the end of the novel, Phillip has forgotten their differences and respects Timothy.  He even asks Timothy, "Are you still Black?"   Phillip had learned to judge people for who they are, and not what they look like.

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