Ideas for Reports and Papers

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1. The Cay opens with descriptions of the harbor and the city of Willemstad, Curacao. Research the area as it was in 1942 and as it is today. Are Taylor's accounts accurate? What major changes have taken place on Curacao since 1942?

2. Phillip and Henrik mention the conquest of Holland by the Germans and the dispersal of the Dutch fleet. Using histories of World War II, explain how and when Holland was conquered.

3. Phillip hints at the importance of merchant ships in the Caribbean during World War II. Investigate the role of the merchant marine during World War II, especially in the Caribbean.

4. Phillip Enright Sr. is an American oil man working for Royal Dutch Shell during World War II. What role did American oil men play at that time in locating and producing oil in the Caribbean? To what extent are Americans still involved in oil refining in that area? How has their role affected American policy in the region?

5. Phillip sights a German submarine about a mile outside Willemstad harbor. How prevalent were German submarines in the Caribbean and off the American coasts during World War II? What precautions did people on the mainland and in the islands take? Did shipping continue?

6. Taylor has been criticized for having Timothy speak in rather broad dialect. Using linguistic sources, investigate the dialects spoken in the Caribbean—especially in Timothy's hometown, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. Is Timothy's language realistic? How does it differ from black dialects spoken in the United States during the 1940s?

7. Timothy and Phillip land on an unnamed cay deep inside the Devil's Mouth. Using geography books and other library reference sources, describe the area where Timothy and Phillip land. How logical is Timothy's theory about the cay's origin?

8. Timothy's death is a direct result of the hurricane which destroys nearly everything on the island. How accurate is Taylor's description of an Atlantic hurricane? What kinds of damage have resulted from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean? Timothy says the July hurricanes are the most destructive. Is there any factual basis for his observation?

9. Phillip and Timothy, adrift on their raft, seem similar to Huck and Jim in Huckleberry Finn. Read Mark Twain's novel, and point out the similarities and differences between the two books.

10. The Cay also has been compared with The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe and other novels dealing with survival in an uncivilized area. Read one of these books and write a report comparing it to The Cay.

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