Does Tekoto exist in Call it Courage?
It certainly exists in the story. When Mafatu was only three years old, he and his mother were caught up in a storm off the coast of Hikuru that swept them into the open sea. The canoe eventually capsized and Mafatu had to grab hold of his mother as she swam to a nearby uninhabited islet called Tekoto. It was here that she died. Ever since then, Mafatu has had a fear of water.
In real life, it is difficult to know whether the islet is real or not. Hikuru exists because it is one of the 80 Tuamotu islands in French Polynesia in the southern Pacific Ocean. However, Tekoto is not on a map of the area. It may be because the islet is so small. In the book, the author calls it a coral island.
Since the other locations are real, however, and because Sperry was a writer of historical fiction, it is likely that the islet exists.
In the story, Mafatu decides the only way he can overcome his fear and win the respect of his father is by facing his fear of the water and heading out alone into the sea. After a series of life-threatening episodes, Mafatu returns home a hero and, in his father's eyes, a man.
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