The Cay Essay Example



A classic tale of being lost at sea has been told before but not with the same depth and purpose The Cay possess. While reading, I was drawn to how the characters weren’t simply lost but seemed to create a purpose while being lost. Spending months on an island with a stranger would have meant nothing for Phillip if he hadn’t changed or grown in some way. The way Phillip has no reason to respect Timothy is changed by Phillip becoming blind and having to rely on Timothy for his survival. For me, Phillip becoming blind broke his previous notions about race because sight and color no longer mattered to him.

This created a kind of irony because it would make sense that not being able to see at all could cause someone like Phillip who was raised to treat people of color differently, to treat Timothy just the same as any other person who is equal.  Children follow suit of their parents’ actions and beliefs, but young minds can be easily molded and changed. After getting to know Timothy, Phillip proves this point completely and essentially forgets about the idea of race, eventually treating Timothy as he would treat anyone else. Driven by actions alone, Phillip trusts Timothy as if they’d known each other for years. 

In modern society trust is a very debatable subject, trusting strangers is always something most parents would advise against, but naïve children such as Phillip see the best in people or assume they have morally good intentions. Timothy could have let Phillip drown or left him to die on the island to allow more food supply for himself, but he didn’t. This is what ultimately shows the reader the kind of bond that Timothy and Phillip have created. Phillip may never realize this because of his age or upbringing, but this is one of the elements of the novel that makes it so different from any other story of survival.

Why would Timothy risk his own life to help a blind boy that he doesn’t know? Maybe he helps Phillip because he truly is morally good, just as Phillip eventually perceives him to be. Timothy certainly had no obligation to help Phillip, he chose to help him. In life, we want to believe that people are morally good, and this novel brings this to light, all while contrasting the division created by a world at war. 

After connecting all the important pieces within this novel, there is one character that is easy to look past, stew cat. Although it seems that this cat adds nothing more to the book than a sense of relief or comfort within this unimaginable scenario, I find that stew cat is yet another thing that brings Phillip and Timothy together. The cat is ignored at first, but after realizing how lonely they are, both Phillip and Timothy appreciate his company. After Timothy dies shortly following the storm, stew cat serves as a guide for Phillip in place of Timothy along with the skills that Phillip had acquired over time thanks to Timothy. A cat surely isn’t as helpful as another human being, but it’s the idea of companionship that keeps the characters in this novel from giving up hope.

After Phillip is finally saved without Timothy by his side, he returns home and has a procedure to regain his sight. This is a strong part of the ending of the novel because, although it took going blind for him to see more clearly, Phillip has retained his newfound racial acceptance and maturity even after being able to see again and live a similar life to his old one. Becoming lost was Phillips way of finding reason and learning things he probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Phillip wanting to go back and visit that cay someday shows that he values the things he has learned and wouldn’t mind reliving those memories because they were such an important part of his life. Being lost with Timothy has changed him for the better and he has become mature enough to come to this realization.