What is an example of foreshadowing in chapters 11-19 of Theodore Taylor's book The Cay?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Foreshadowing is a literary device in which an author gives hints in the story about events that happen later in the story. Foreshadowing can be achieved through dialogue between characters, through other events in the story, and even through symbolism.

In Theodore Taylor's young reader's novel The Cay, we see very clear instances of foreshadowing in Chapter Eleven with respect to references to Phillip's growing independence despite his newly acquired blindness as a result of a head injury. Taylor uses various actions and Phillip's thoughts to foreshadow later events in the story.

Prior to Chapter Eleven, Phillip had realized Timothy was making him a vine rope he can use to feel his way to the fire pit in order to light the signal fire should he ever need to do so on his own. Phillip's realization that Timothy is trying to help him get around the island by himself assists him in overcoming his feelings of helplessness. Now, in Chapter Eleven, Phillip describes himself as using a cane Timothy had also made for him to feel his way around the island. Phillip describes himself as slowly getting to know their island, all by himself, through using his senses of feeling and hearing. Phillip continues to describe that the more he gets acquainted with moving around the island, the more he loses his dependency on the vine rope for help moving around. However, Phillip's most revealing statement is that it seemed to him Timothy was also trying to make Phillip independent of Timothy; plus, Phillip understood why but did not want to think about the reason why. Phillip phrases his vital understanding of the situation in the following:

I did not want to think about the possibility of Timothy dying and leaving me alone on the cay. (p. 81)

This description of Phillip gaining much-needed independence through Phillip's own and Timothy's actions and the brief reference to Phillip's thoughts about the possibility of Timothy dying prove to be very significant instances of foreshadowing. We learn early on in the book that Timothy is very old. Though Timothy doesn't know his exact age, he knows he is somewhere in either his 70s or 80s. Phillip understands from the start that Timothy's age poses a threat to Timothy's vitality and that Timothy is likely to die on the island.

As we soon learn, Timothy's death on the island certainly does occur. By Chapter Fifteen, a hurricane has hit the island. Timothy does his utmost to shelter Phillip from the dangerous winds. As a result, Phillip survives the storm, but Timothy does not, leaving Phillip to survive on the island on his own. Hence, as we can see, author Taylor used the actions both Timothy and Phillip took to help Phillip achieve independence and Phillip's thoughts about the possibility of Timothy's death to foreshadow that Timothy truly does die and that Phillip truly will need to continue surviving on the island by himself in his new state of blindness.

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