The Cay by Theodore Taylor, is a thrilling survival tale with a dash of historical fiction. Taylor tells the story of eleven-year-old Phillip Enright, an American living on the Caribbean island of Curaçao during World War II. While attempting to return to safety in the U.S., Phillip’s ship is torpedoed and he finds himself blinded and stranded on a raft with an elderly black man named Timothy. As the two attempt to survive on a deserted island, Phillip learns lessons in friendship, perseverance, and inner strength. The story’s message of racial equality provides material for meaningful class discussions. Its linear structure and dynamic protagonist also make The Cay a wonderful resource for teaching plot structure and character development.
The Cay Internal and External Conflict - The Cay Literary Conflict
He is different from me.
I won't do it! You're stupid, you can't even spell!
Due to their racial differences, Phillip struggles to accept Timothy as an equal. He views Timothy negatively, but needs him to survive. Eventually, this conflict is resolved when Phillip asks Timothy to be his friend.
I can't do it! I'm blind!
Phillip comes into conflict with Timothy many times. During their last major conflict, Phillip insults Timothy and Timothy responds by slapping him. Their conflicts are resolved when Phillip realizes Timothy is trying to help him, and the two become friends.
Phillip struggles to accept his blindness. When he first loses his sight, he is angry and afraid. He lashes out at Timothy and cries when he is alone. He refuses to do much of anything, even though his attitude may hurt his chance of survival. This problem is resolved when Phillip decides to work to overcome his limitations and accepts Timothy's survival training.
When Phillip is bitten by an eel, he experiences an external conflict. He resolves the conflict by deciding never again to dive for langosta in that hole.