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The Cay

The Cay

by Theodore Taylor

The Cay Chapter 2 Summary

  • Phillip's father adjusts the blackout curtains and returns to work. Phillip is in bed but can't sleep. He keeps thinking about the Chinese sailors on the lake tankers. And the Germans – will they come?
  • Phillip gets out of bed, grabs a hatchet from the tool house, and puts it under the couch where he's sleeping.
  • Phillip's dad returns and gets into a fight with his wife, Grace. She wants to go back to Norfolk, Virginia. He says it's not safe unless she flies. She says she won't fly. Stalemate. He returns to work.
  • Phillip thinks about leaving the island; he would miss the people and animals and places. He is "awake most of the night" (2.12).
  • The next morning Phillip's father tells him that the Chinese sailors won't sail on the lake tankers. They're charged with mutiny, but Father says that they have a right to be afraid of the German submarines.
  • The island begins to run low on fresh water, which is usually brought in on the big tankers.
  • Around February 21 some of the Chinese sailors agree to man the lake tankers, but then another tanker is torpedoed and the fear returns.
  • A British tanker is to set sail, and Phillip's father takes him into the Schottegat to see the launch. Sure enough, the tanker is torpedoed by a German submarine and vanishes into a "wall of red flames" (2.26).
  • That night Phillip's mother says she is taking Phillip back to Norfolk. His father doesn't order her to stay but says she is making a mistake.
  • A little time passes until one day in early April, Mother tells Phillip that Father has gotten them a place on a boat for Miami. She tells Phillip it's his last day of school.
  • Phillip is pretty ticked off and feels "hollow inside" (2.34). He calls his mother a coward and says he hates her. (Harsh, Phillip, harsh.)
  • Phillip tells his dad he wants to stay with him, but his father says to go with his mother.
  • Phillip says goodbye to Henrik van Boven and boards the S.S. Hato, a small Dutch freighter. His father jokes that the Germans wouldn't waste a torpedo on that boat, but he checks over the lifeboats anyway.
  • Phillip hugs his father, then the ship sets sail down the bay. Mother points to a tall man waving on the wall of the fort. Phillip knows it's his father.
  • The ship hits the open sea and heads to Panama to make a stop. Phillip stays on the deck looking at Curaçao until his mother calls him inside.
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