Discussion Topic

Summary of events in Chapters 7-12 of "The Cay"


In chapters 7-12 of The Cay, Phillip and Timothy's bond deepens as they struggle for survival on the deserted island. Timothy teaches Phillip survival skills despite his blindness. They build a hut, gather food, and prepare for hurricanes. Tensions arise but are resolved, illustrating their growing friendship and interdependence. The chapters highlight themes of resilience, cooperation, and overcoming prejudice.

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What events occurred in Chapters 7 and 8 of "The Cay"?

In Chapter 7, Timothy brings the raft to land.  He carries Phillip and Stew Cat ashore, and then goes to explore the island.  Phillip, who is still blind, is terrified when left alone, and imperiously orders Timothy to promise not to leave him again.  Phillip is angry that they have landed on an island which is uninhabited, but Timothy says that he will make a camp, catch langosta, or lobsters, for food, and that hopefully, a ship will pass by soon and rescue them.  Timothy believes they are on a cay known as Devil's Mouth, and that they will be all right, but Phillip feels that Timothy is not telling him the whole truth.

In Chapter 8, Timothy admits that the island they are on is more remote than he had thought, but he still has hope for their survival.  Phillip is indignant when Timothy leaves him again, but Timothy gently chides him, reminding him, "'ere I'm all you got".  Phillip notices that Timothy seems "tired and groans a lot" as he works, and learns that the man is over seventy years old.  In the morning, Timothy makes a fire on the beach, and wants to spell a message on the sand to attract the attention of passing planes.  Although Timothy is too proud to directly ask for help, Phillip figures out that Timothy cannot spell, and draws out the letters HELP in the sand so that Timothy can arrange large rocks to make a signal that can be seen from the air. 

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What events occur in chapters 9 to 12 of The Cay?

Timothy begins to make a rope that will stretch down the hill to the beach and fire pile.  The rope is for Phillip to use as a guide to get around the island on his own.  While he works on the rope, Timothy asks Phillip to help out by weaving sleeping mats, but Phillip petulantly refuses to work.  When Timothy insists, Phillip screams insolently at him, and Timothy slaps him.  As he sulks, Phillip realizes that the rope Timothy is making is for him, and with this realization, "something happen(s) to (him)...he (has) begun to change".  Phillip tells Timothy he wants to be friends, and asks the old man to call him Phillip "instead of young boss" (Chapter 9).

On their seventh night on the island, it rains, and Timothy and Phillip discover that the catchment they have made works, and they have drinking water.  That night, the two of them talk; Phillip tells Timothy about his mother and father, and Timothy talks about his own childhood.  Phillip tells Timothy that his mother doesn't like black people and wonders why, and Timothy replies wisely, "I don' like some white people my own self, but 'twould be outrageous if I didn' like any o' dem...I true tink beneath d'skin is all d'same" (Chapter 10).

Phillip is beginning to learn how to get around the island despite his blindness, and Timothy is proud.  Though he doesn't like to think about it, Phillip knows Timothy is working hard to make Phillip independent so he will be able to survive on his own in case something should happen to him.  Timothy becomes frustrated that they haven't been rescued, and decides "d'islan' mus' 'ave a jumbi", or a curse.  He begins to believe Stew Cat is the problem, and, since Phillip will not let him get rid of the cat, he temporarily removes the feline from the island by putting him on the raft offshore.  Timothy then performs a ritual to rid the island of the cat's evil "jumbi", and when it is done, he feels confident that their luck will change (Chapter 11).

After Timothy and Phillip have been on the island about a month, Timothy is stricken with a bout of malaria.  Although there is not much he can do, Phillip tries to nurse him through the fever and delirium.  Timothy recovers, but "never really regain(s) his strength" (Chapter 12).

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