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The Cay

The Cay

Themes

Curaçao is a Dutch-controlled Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela. Virginia is a state located in the mid-eastern section of the continental United States. Phillip and his family have relocated to Curaçao, though Phillip's mother remains homesick for her old Virginia home. These two distinct regions are juxtaposed throughout The Cay as a way of comparing and contrasting the cultures of America and the Caribbean more generally. The novel explores the differences and similarities between the two places, often defining the two cultures against one another.

Questions About Contrasting Regions: Virginia and Curaçao

  1. What country controls the island where Phillip lives?
  2. In what ways are Virginia and Curaçao different?
  3. Why does Phillip's mother want to return to Virginia? Why doesn't his father?
  4. Where would you say Timothy is "from"?
  5. Does Phillip return to America? When and why?
  6. How is the cay similar to or different from Virginia and Curaçao? Why do you think that it's on the cay that Phillip is able to transform and mature so much?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

On of the main messages in The Cay is that we can learn things from other cultures only if we stop seeing them as different and separate.

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