by Theodore Taylor
The cast of characters in The Cay is short, so we would be remiss not to mention the beloved Stew Cat. Like Phillip and Timothy, Stew Cat is a refugee from the S.S. Hato, where he belonged to the cook. As a castaway, he becomes a part of Timothy and Phillip's small family on the cay.
What part does Stew Cat play in the novel?
Well, the friendly cat offers Phillip companionship and comfort during really tough times. Phillip cuddles with Stew, for example, when he's alone and afraid (7.33), and after he loses Timothy (15.45). Think of him as a living, breathing teddy bear.
Stew Cat also becomes a way for Phillip to express his care and feelings for other creatures. For example, Phillip fears for Stew Cat's safety when Timothy thinks the cat is the jumbi (evil spirit) in Chapter 11. Phillip also worries about Stew Cat during the storm, when the thought of losing either him or Timothy becomes "unbearable" (14.12). Phillip's kind treatment of Stew Cat suggests that he has learned to love not only human beings who seem different from him, but also the animals of the natural world.
What happens to Stew Cat in the end?
To be honest with you, Shmoopers, we're not altogether sure. We know the cat is rescued from the island with Phillip, but Phillip doesn't mention what happens to Stew Cat beyond that. What do you think happens to Stew Cat?
Brain Adventure: Write a short story entitled The Further Adventures of Stew Cat. Where would Stew Cat end up next?