What is the climax in the novel The Cay?

Expert Answers info

Jonathan Beutlich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2014

write5,854 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and History

Let's start with a working definition of climax. A story's climax is a point in the narrative in which the conflict and tension are at the maximum. It's also a turning point in a story that moves the reader from rising actions to falling actions. For The Cay, I believe that the highest point of narrative tension is the hurricane that Phillip and Timothy have to endure. I also think the hurricane works as the climax because of how much of a turning point it is for Phillip. Before the hurricane, Phillip is very dependent on Timothy for survival. The two characters have become friends, and Phillip is getting better at caring for himself; however, Timothy still does a great deal. After the hurricane, all of that changes. Timothy survives the storm, but he isn't capable of doing anything, and he eventually dies from his injuries. Phillip is now in charge of his own fate. The story has turned from being a story about Phillip and Timothy to being a story about Phillip's final time on the cay and eventual rescue.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write7,077 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

I suppose it could be argued that there are two possible climaxes in Theodore Taylor's novel, The Cay. The most obvious would be when Phillip is rescued from his long stay on the island and is eventually reunited with his parents. It serves to complete the story of his castaway stay on the island; however, it is not a typically climactic scene--in fact it seems somewhat anti-climactic following the suspenseful buildup that occurs when the hurricane hits the island and results in Timothy's death. The hurricane and the death of Timothy is certainly the highest peak of action in the novel, but since Phillip's life continues for a while longer, his rescue would probably be a more logical choice. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial