Why did Phillip's dad go to Curacao in The Cay?

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In chapter one, readers are told that Phillip's father works at the refinery that is on Curacao. We know that he is something more than a physical laborer at the refinery because we are told that he was working on the program to increase the production of aviation gas. About a page or two later, Phillip informs readers that his family came to Curacao late in 1939. His mother was not happy about the move. She was happy in the United States, but Phillip's father argued that he was needed for the war effort. Mr. Enright is an expert in refineries and gasoline production. In Virginia, he was in charge of building an entirely new refinery. That was until the Royal Dutch Shell company borrowed him from the American company to help out with the production facility on Curacao since the island is a Dutch Caribbean island. The threat of World War 2 eventually presses upon the island in such a way as to cause Phillip and his mother to make an attempt at returning to the United States. Their ship is torpedoed, and the rest of the story is about Phillip and Timothy's time on the small cay.

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Phillip Enright Sr. was a high-ranking official with an American oil company when he was "borrowed" by Royal Dutch Shell and sent to Curacao. The family had previously lived in Virginia where Phillip Sr. "had been in charge of building a new refinery on the banks of the Elizabeth River." Although America had not yet entered the war, Enright agreed to being loaned out to Royal Dutch Shell because he felt his expertise was "needed." He was "an expert in refineries and production," and he would be associated with the Shell oil refineries in the Dutch West Indies. On Curacao, he was in charge of "a program to increase the production of aviation gas." Enright's decision to move his family to Curacao put them in harm's way of the new German U-boat threats that patrolled the waters, and his wife was never happy there because of the constant smell of oil and that there were so "many black people around."

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