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.
Phillip’s mother decides to take him back to the United States, where he will be safer. The Cay: Introduction But on the way their ship is torpedoed. After German submarines attack some oil tankers off the island,
Waking up on a life raft, Phillip soon his loses his eyesight from an injury. The Cay: Introduction Timothy knows a lot about survival, but he is very different from Phillip. His only companions are a cat and an old, black sailor named Timothy.
The Cay: Introduction Prejudiced against black people, Phillip faces an inner conflict. but dependent on Timothy for his survival, How should he treat Timothy? Can he learn to trust him, and even like him?
The Cay: Introduction 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. The Cay: Introduction There is little food or water. It is remote and uninhabited. The chances for rescue are slim.
The Cay: Introduction Can Timothy and Phillip survive? How will their relationship develop as they live together on the island? What changes might take place in Phillip?
The Cay: Background Cays—also called keys—are small, low islands.
The Cay: Background Cays develop on the edges of coral reefs. Sand, coral, and debris build up. Birds drop seeds. Plants grow from the seeds. The plants make the cay more stable.
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: Background
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 Cay: Background The West Indies includes Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Curaçao, the Bahamas, Grenada, and the Virgin Islands, plus many smaller islands.
The Cay: Background Originally, American Indians inhabited the West Indies. After Christopher Columbus discovered the islands in 1492, various European countries started to take them over.
The Cay: Background Today, most of the islands and island groups in the West Indies are independent nations. However, some are still partly controlled by other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. JamaicaGrenadathe Bahamas
The Cay: Background U-boatsU-boats, the submarines used by Germany during World War II, were among the most feared weapons of the war.
The Cay: Background German U-boats weighed from five hundred to seven hundred tons could travel very fast underwater could track the metal in a ship’s hull The torpedoes on these submarines could follow the noise of a propeller in order to hit the target
The Cay: Discussion Starters Discuss (1) Timothy is not an educated man, but he does understand human nature and survival. What other characters can you think of, from movies or books, that are uneducated yet wise? Choose one such character and describe his or her special traits. If you met this character in difficult circumstances, would you listen to what he or she had to say? Explain.
The Cay: Discussion Starters Discuss (2) Name some other survival stories with which you are familiar, and briefly describe their plots. Why do you think stories of survival are so popular in the world of literature?