The Cay Questions and Answers
by Theodore Taylor

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What is the setting of the novel, "The Cay?"

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Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In general, the setting of a story includes the time and place.  The Cay begins in February of 1942.  That puts it right in the middle of World War II.  Phillip and his family originally lived in the United States, but Phillip remembers very little of that.  He was only seven when his family moved to the island of Curacao.  The exact area of the island that his family lives in is Willemstad.  

I had played there many times with Henrik and other boys when we were a few years younger, imagining we were defending Willemstad against pirates or even the British. 

Not much of the novel actually takes place here.  This is because Phillip's family no longer feels safe from the war on the island, so they decide it would be best if Phillip and his mother return to Norfolk, Virginia.  In order to get there, Phillip and his mother board a ship that is bound for Miami, Florida.  Unfortunately, the ship is torpedoed and sinks.  Phillip is rescued by Timothy, and the two characters fight for their survival on a small cay in an area of the Caribbean known as the "Devil's Mouth."  This is where the majority of the novel is set. 

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dswain001 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Okay, let's clarify a few things. The story is told in the voice of Phillip; however, Phillip is NOT blind. His vision is repaired after he is rescued. Now as for the setting, the story begins in Curacas during WWII. Phillip lives there with his mother and father. While enroute to Virginia with his mother, Phillip's ship is bombed and he is rescured by a black man who works on the ship. They eventually drift onto a deserted island in an uncharted area called "The Devil's Mouth".

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The novel "The Cay" by Theodore Langhans Taylor was a young adult novel with the setting in the Caribbean islands.  The story is narrated by a blind man named Phillip. He is recalling his youth in the story, and begins when he is 11 years old.  "The Cay opens in February 1942 on the island of Curacao, then part of the Dutch West Indies. When Phillip is ship-wrecked, the setting shifts to an unnamed cay deep in the Devil's Mouth, long U-shaped coral banks in the Caribbean."

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