The Cay

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Shipwrecked!All his life Phillip had looked down upon black-skinned people. Now, suddenly, he was a refugee from a fatal shipwreck, and dependent on an extraordinary West Indian named Timothy. There were just the two of them cast up on the barren little Caribbean Island...three if you counted Stew Cat...and a crack on the head had left Phillip blind.An exciting, moving adventure story, "The Clay tells of their struggle for survival...and of Phillip's effort to adjust to his blindness, and to understand the dignified, wise, and loving man who was his companion. An exciting and moving adventure story of two shipwreck victims' struggle to survive. THE CAY is also a story of adjustment and learning to understand people who are different. "Innocence vs. wisdom, black vs. white, growing up and surviving... are forcefully portrayed."-School Library Journal
Curriculet Details
27 Questions
29 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in the sixth grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining theme, imagery, and point of view. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about static and dynamic characters, and tension. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of racial differences, independence, and friendship. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter One

Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Willemstad is the capital of Curaçao -- a small island located in the Caribbean. The Germans attacked the oil refineries and small tankers in the Battle of the Caribbean during World War II. Below is an example of the pastel colored houses. (This annotation contains an image)
While the attack by German U boats against the island is very serious, the narrator, Phillip, doesn't sense the seriousness. How does Phillip feel about the commotion? 
A young man named Phillip is the narrator of the story. We will see the story unfold through his eyes. We have already experienced the excitement and then the fear that the war has brought to the island. Watch the video below and then determine which point of view is being used in this story. (This annotation contains a video)
What do Phillip's descriptions of his father and the activities they do together suggest about their relationship? 

Chapter Two

Blackout curtains were used to prevent night time air raids on houses. If planes couldn't see lights on in a house, it would be less of a target. Below is a picture of a family covering their windows with dark fabric.  (This annotation contains an image)
What are the effects of the war on Curaçao so far? Use textual evidence from the story to support your answer. 
In a place as paradise-like as Curaçao, it is quite a juxtaposition to see an oil tanker explode on beautiful blue waters. A juxtaposition is a literary device used by writers to place two things side-by-side to show contrast. Look at the picture below of an oil tanker sinking and the German submarine surfacing to watch the ship die. Not a pretty picture in paradise, is it?  (This annotation contains an image)
There is a lot of build up here about the safety of this boat. Be careful-- when there is emphasis on something, you need to be aware the opposite could occur. What literary device could be in play here? 

Chapter Three

Oh no! Their fears have come true. How terrifying it must be for Phillip! It is especially awful that there is no warning from a torpedo fired from a submarine. It is completely unexpected. What will Philip and his mother do to survive?  (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what the Negro says in the highlighted section and what Phillip remembers, what happened to Phillip when the lifeboat was lowered? 
As a reader, sometimes it's difficult to understand the dialect or the way a character is speaking. Slow down; sound it out the way it is spelled and you will get the hang of it. Timothy is speaking with a Calypso accent. Watch the video below to hear the the Calypso accent by the woman in the movie "The Pirates of the Caribbean." (This annotation contains a video)
In addition to Timothy not giving Phillip more water, there are other clues that show Phillip's feelings about Timothy. Many of Phillip's descriptions suggest his dislike. Analyze Phillip's descriptions of Timothy on the previous pages, and use textual evidence to show this dislike. 
Phillip is beginning to sound like a spoiled boy. While this situation is not ideal, at least he is alive. As readers, we need to remind ourselves that he is only a boy. He has been raised by a mother who did not care for black people and it isn't surprising that he is adopting that attitude. Without any other viewpoints, it might not be Phillip's fault that he is not more respectful of other races.  

Chapter Four

How does Phillip feel about being with Timothy in a raft in the middle of the ocean? 
Phillip seems to have this need to classify and label Timothy. Most people fear what they don't know, so this questioning may not be a bad thing. The more Phillip discovers about the black man in the boat, the more he may come to understand that they are not that different after all.  
In the highlighted sentence, what kind of literary device is used when the author writes, "red ball of sun"? 
This is terrible! At first, it made sense that looking too much into the sun would make Phillip's vision hazy. But now, it seems much more serious. Head injuries can cause optic nerve damage. These nerves carry messages back and forth from the eyes to the brain. A head injury causes swelling and this swelling cuts off the blood circulation to these nerves. Now, Phillip's headaches make more sense. In essence, his brain was swelling - of course it would be throbbing. 

Chapter Five

How would you describe the character of Timothy? Use examples from the story to support your response. 
With a young narrator, we see EVERYTHING through his twelve-year-old eyes. You cannot always take everything he says as truth. We call this an unreliable narrator. It isn't a bad thing; it's just that we are viewing everything through his perspective and things could be exaggerated or misunderstood. 

Chapter Six

What is so dangerous about Phillip falling into the water? 
It sounds like a beautiful island, but in their situation, it is just a lonely place to land.  (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz: Chapters 1 - 6 

Chapter Seven

What is Timothy most excited for as he beaches the raft and starts to explore the island? 
"Cay" is actually pronounced "key." It means a small island. Now, the book is called "The Cay." Knowing what the pronunciation is - could there be a double meaning to the title? 
How does Timothy think they can be rescued? 

Chapter Eight

This is the beginning of an emerging theme. Watch the video below and then think about what theme is suggested in the highlighted section.  (This annotation contains a video)
Do you think Phillip is being unreasonable or do you think it is understandable given that he has just lost his mother and his sight? Give reasons to support your answer. 
This is what Phillip and Timothy's signal might look like from the sky.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Nine

What is Timothy teaching Phillip by making the rope and expecting him to touch off the big fire if Timothy is away from the beach? 
When something unexpected happens in a story, you should pay close attention and ask yourself "why did this happen?" Timothy striking Phillip was VERY unexpected. While violence is wrong, it sounds like Phillip's attack was too much for Timothy - especially after all he has done for him up to this point. Do you think this will change anything? 

Chapter Ten

What aspect of figurative language does the author use in the highlighted section? 
Do you notice what Timothy is trying to do here? Has anyone ever hinted at something that he or she wanted you to do? Timothy wants Phillip to make up his mind to climb the palm tree to fetch coconuts. He doesn't want to force him, because it won't mean as much. Timothy is teaching Phillip a great deal without formal "teaching." As Phillip needs to develop independent skills to live without sight, Timothy is gently guiding him towards that independence. 
How has Phillip changed since the boat explosion and coming to the island? Use specific details to support your answer. 

Chapter Eleven

Coral is considered an animal but looks like a plant. Their bodies resemble rock but are actually quite fragile. Below are images of the two different types of coral mentioned in the highlighted section. Can you pick out the two types? (This annotation contains an image)
Using the information from the previous paragraphs, what is the meaning of the word jumbi? 
In this section of the novel, the author is building tension. We don't know what has happened to Stew Cat. Phillip is searching the area and the reader is on edge waiting to see what will happen. Watch the video on how to build tension in a novel and then think about how this author has put obstacles and trouble in Phillip's path. (This annotation contains a video)
What literary device is being used in the highlighted section to build tension? 

Chapter Twelve

High fevers can cause shivering and hallucinations. It sounds like Timothy is experiencing both.  
Quiz Chapters: 7 - 12 

Chapter Thirteen

Please list all the things that Timothy has "taught" Phillip during their time together. Use details from the text to support your answer. 
Think about what it would be like to be Timothy - a man without an education. While Timothy has taught Phillip many things, now, Phillip can return the favor explaining how a volcano builds an island. Below is an illustration showing the steps of land formation.  (This annotation contains an image)
What did Phillip feel most after he had to go back down the palm tree? 

Chapter Fourteen

A tempest is a type of violent storm bringing hail, rain and snow. Clearly, the island won't have snow, but the other two can be very dangerous to Phillip and Timothy. Below is a picture of what the ocean may have looked like right before the tempest hit. Review the descriptions from later in this scene and compare them to the picture. (This annotation contains an image)
Even though the way Timothy talks is slightly challenging to figure out, he uses a literary device in the highlighted sentence. What is it? 

Chapter Fifteen

Hurricanes are deadly storms consisting of rain and tropical cyclonic wind in excess of 72 mph. Even a glancing blow from a hurricane can be treacherous. The small center portion is very calm, but then you get hit on the other side. Can you imagine what Timothy and Phillip are going through? (This annotation contains an image)
Click on the link below to watch a film version of the hurricane scene. is watching the film version of "The Cay" alike and different from reading the book? Use specific examples to support your answer. 
Do you think Timothy taught Phillip enough to survive on his own? It's almost as if Timothy knew that Phillip would one day have to fend for himself. And he gave Phillip the ultimate sacrifice - his life. It's such a sad image to picture Phillip hugging Stew Cat and feeling completely alone in the middle of the Caribbean. 

Chapter Sixteen

What does the dialogue by Phillip in the highlighted section suggest? 
When someone goes blind, they must rely on their other senses for everything. Phillip relies on his sense of touch, smell and hearing heavily. In fact, when you lose one sense - the others become stronger and more finely-tuned. It's hard to imagine going through life without being able to see anything, but then it would be much harder to not have sight on a deserted Caribbean island. 
Why do the birds attack Phillip? 

Chapter Seventeen

Can you believe Phillip caught a lobster? This is quite a big change from when he relied on Timothy for everything. Watch the video below on static and dynamic characters and then classify the characters of Phillip and Timothy. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter Eighteen

How does the author use the beginning of Chapter 8 to establish the theme of independence? Use information from the scene to support your analysis. 
It is extremely ironic that Phillip is unable to see what kind of signal fire he is building, especially because he is relying on someone else to SEE the fire he built. Maybe this is what his fire looked like? Unfortunately, with first-person narration, we only "see" things from Phillip's perspective. (This annotation contains an image)
What literary device is in use in the highlighted sentence? 
As Phillip is only twelve years old, he is not thinking through this situation. Where would the plane have landed? The pilot may have seen the smoke but had to go back for a boat to help him. Phillip isn't thinking it all the way through. He just wants to get off the island. And seriously, who can blame him? 

Chapter Nineteen

What are the sounds of the bells Phillip hears? 
Cristobal, Panama is the site of an American naval base. During WWII, the military built naval bases quickly in order to have places to launch their boats in an attack. (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz Chapters: 13 - 19