Why did Timothy create a carving of Stew Cat in The Cay by Theodore Taylor?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Timothy creates a carving of Stew Cat because he thinks Stew Cat is bad luck. He calls him a "jumbi." Voodoo was something many of the Black people from the islands believed in and practiced.

"Recalling everything that had happened, Timothy said, 'He (Stew Cat) came board d'raff, an' we got separated from all else; den d'young bahss' eyes got dark, gibbin' us exceedin' trouble; den we float up dis hombuggin' Debil's Mout'...'" (Taylor 81).

Timothy is convinced that Stew Cat is the cause of all their troubles and bad luck. 

The next day, when Phillip gets up, he cannot find Timothy. Phillip takes his cane and begins to look for Timothy, finally finding him on the north side of the cay.

Phillip asks where Stew Cat is, and at first Timothy doesn't answer, but when Phillip persists, Timothy very unconvincingly tells Phillip that Stew Cat is probably out hunting lizards. 

Phillip can hear Timothy working on something and when he asks what it is, Timothy tells him that he's just "Cuttin' on an ol' piece of wood" (Taylor 83).

The two of them go back to the hut to eat breakfast, and then Timothy leaves again. Phillip looks for Stew Cat and tries to figure out what to do.

Eventually, Phillip discovers that Timothy had been carving a large cat with nails in it designed to "kill the evil jumbi" (Taylor 85). Stew Cat has been on the raft all this time, but is now back on the island, and Timothy believes that the Stew Cat carving will change their luck.