The Cay is a tale of growth, change, and survival. It tells the story of Phillip Enright, a young boy and Timothy, an older, Caribbean sailor who are forced to survive after their ship is sunk during World War II. The two characters and a cat are forced to survive on a small island while waiting for rescue.
Both characters show courage in several ways as the story unfolds. Timothy shows courage by helping to rescue Phillip in the midst of the ship sinking. When Phillip eventually loses his eyesight (temporarily), Timothy shows courage by helping Phillip cope and become independent on their small island. Timothy shows the ultimate courage by the end of the story when he sacrifices his life in the hurricane to save Phillip.
Phillip is also able to show courage throughout the book. He is able to deal with the fact that his parents might have been lost in the sinking of the ship. He copes with the fact that he loses his eyesight and, with Timothy’s prompting, is able to climb a coconut tree, which is a challenge considering his lost vision. This proves to be the ultimate symbol of Phillip’s growing independence. Finally, Phillip shows true courage when he is forced to survive on the island alone following the hurricane.