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The Cay
Author - Theodore Taylor

Excerpt :
The palm fronds above me rattled in the breeze, and there were other noises from the underbrush. I knew Stew Cat was around somewhere, but it didn’t sound like him.
I wondered if Timothy had checked for snakes. There were also scorpions on most Caribbean islands, and they were deadly. I wondered if there were any on our cay.
During those first few days on our island, the times spent alone were terrible. It was, of course, being unable to see that made all the sounds so frightening. I guess if you are born blind it is not so bad. You grow up knowing each sound and what it means.
Suddenly the tears came out. I knew it was not a manly thing to do, something my father would have frowned on, but I couldn’t stop. Then from nowhere came Stew Cat. He rubbed along my arms and up against my cheek, purring hard. I held him close.

Theodore Taylor’s book, “The Cay” is the story of young Philip and wise old Timothy. Set during the Second World War, it is about the adventures of Philip who set off from the island of Curracao off the Venezuelan coast, with his mother, bound for Virginia. Philip is unhappy about leaving his home and his father behind, but has no options. Two days after leaving Panama, the boat is torpedoed and Philip wakes up to find himself on a raft with an ugly, huge old Negro called Timothy and Stew Cat, the cook’s pet cat.
What unfolds is a story of perseverance, prejudice and finally acceptance and love. Philip is at first wary of the ‘huge black negro’ but learns bit by bit that Timothy is an affectionate, caring man who guards Philip – the young bahss , as Timothy refers to him- with all his might. They spend several days on a raft in the middle of the sea and Philip wakes up one day to find that he has gone blind. Then Timothy, the big lumbering giant who sings softly in Calypso takes charge and protects young and frightened ‘Phill-eep’ with his life. He teaches the young boy how to survive on a small island alone and sightless. Philip realizes that his misgivings about black people are based on prejudice and ignorance. Timothy is a wonderful, loving and kind man just like his father.
The adventure unfolds with the man, the boy and the cat battling fierce hurricanes and struggling to stay alive. Philip’s dependence on the wise old Timothy, his effort to adjust to his blindness and his realization that we are all the same no matter what the colour of our skin, is what makes The Cay a memorable book.
First published in 1969, this book has won eleven literary awards and has been translated into several languages. The idea for this book came to Theodore Taylor when he was researching a book about German submarine attacks during the Second World War.

Book Facts:

ISBN : 0-14-036620-2
Published By : Puffin Modern Classics
Format : Paperback
Target Audience : Young Fiction
No. of Pages : 118.
Price : U.K 5.9 pounds

Review - Shoma Mittra

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