Have you read “The Cay” by Theodore Taylor? If you haven’t, I’d recommend it. I read it many years ago as a student and now E is studying it as a novel study for English Lit. The story is told of a Jamaican man and a white boy who are both marooned on an island. It is a simple story of friendship borne by the common need for survival. It speaks of friendship transcending race, colour, or class. It tells about how people can be friends despite not having very much in common. It tells about respect and how everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Quite simply put, it points to how we are all the same under the skin.
The book is a treasure trove of symbolism. The young white boy is blinded physically by an accident, and becomes totally dependent on Timothy the black man. His blindness is also symbolic of the entrenched racial views which the boy knows his mother had, though he himself, has never had any dealings with black people.
Timothy breathed softly beside me. I had now been with him every moment of the day and night for two months, but I had not seen him. I remembered that ugly welted face. But now, in my memory, it did not seem ugly at all. It seemed only kind and strong.
I asked, 'Timothy, are you still black?'
His laughter filled the hut.
These holidays, E has had to design a 'static image' for this book.In designing his image, E used the colours of black and white to depict the racial theme. He also depicted some of the key elements of the story such as the fishing rod, the cane, and the rope. The boy baulks at making a rope at one stage, not realising that Timothy is giving him a means to follow the rope down to the sea, a means to survival. E felt that the rope represents the turning point of the relationship, where the boy eventually realises that the black man is actually trying to help him. Because of this, E plaited 3 pieces of string – white, black, and red. The red, in the rope and the heart, is the only other colour on the static picture. It represents the bond that all humankind shares – the same lifeblood we all have.
“Why be fish different colours, or flowers? I do not know but I true think beneath the skin is all the same….”