The Cay Theodore Taylor. Menu. Introduction Background Discussion Starters. The Cay Theodore Taylor. The Cay: Introduction. The year is 1942. World War II is raging. Eleven-year-old Phillip Enright lives on the island of Curaçao, in the Dutch West Indies. The Cay: Introduction.
The year is 1942. World War II is raging.
Eleven-year-old Phillip Enright lives on the island of Curaçao, in the Dutch West Indies.
After German submarines attack some oil tankers off the island,
Phillip’s mother decides to take him back to the United States, where he will be safer.
But on the way their ship is torpedoed.
Waking up on a life raft, Phillip soon loses his eyesight from an injury.
His only companions are a cat and an old, black sailor named Timothy.
Timothy knows a lot about survival, but he is very different from Phillip.
Prejudiced against black people,
but dependent on Timothy for his survival,
Phillip faces an inner conflict.
How should he treat Timothy? Can he learn to trust him, and even like him?
At the same time, both characters face an external conflict.
Struggling for survival, they are in conflict with nature and with their circumstances.
After a few days, they land on a tiny island.
It is remote and uninhabited.
There is little food or water.
The chances for rescue are slim.
Can Timothy and Phillip survive?
How will their relationship develop as they live together on the island?
What changes might take place in Phillip?
Cays—also called keys—are small, low islands.
Cays develop on the edges of coral reefs.
Many cays rise only five to ten feet above the level of high tide.
Even a fairly large cay can easily be destroyed by a hurricane or other severe storm.
The cay on which Phillip and Timothy land is located in the West Indies—
a chain of islands located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The West Indies includes Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Curaçao, the Bahamas, Grenada, and the Virgin Islands, plus many smaller islands.
Originally, American Indians inhabited the West Indies.
After Christopher Columbus discovered the islands in 1492, various European countries started to take them over.
U-boats, the submarines used by Germany during World War II, were among the most feared weapons of the war.
Timothy is not an educated man, but he does understand human nature and survival.