by Theodore Taylor
The Cay Theme of Family
Sure they drive us crazy, but our family shapes who we are and how we see the world – especially when we're kids. In The Cay, eleven-year-old Phillip's family has a big influence on him. From his mother he picks up some pretty bigoted ideas about race. From his father he learns what a man is supposed to be. After Phillip goes blind and is stranded on the cay, he gains a new family: Timothy and Stew Cat. Phillip's relationship with Timothy will help him see the world – and himself – in a totally new way.
Questions About Family
- What does Phillip's mother think about black people? Why?
- What ideas and values does Phillip pick up from his parents? What kinds of ideas and values have you absorbed from your parents?
- Why does Phillip's father want to stay on the island?
- How would you describe Phillip and Timothy's relationship in the book? Are they like a father and son? Brothers? Something else?
- Who is Phillip's family at the end of the book?
Chew on This
The Cay shows us that a big part of growing up is choosing our values for ourselves, instead of just holding our parents values without question.
Timothy is very similar to Phillip's father, which is one of the reasons why Phillip forms such a strong bond with him.