Last evening I put on my favorite footwear and sweats, cuddled up by the fire, and grabbed the book that taught me more about sacrifice, friendship, racism, and love than any other around. It’s a simple and easy read (137 pages), but in those pages is a profound message. If we think we know the real issues which surround prejudices, which is basically being persuaded to think anew, this book will do just that and in a very heartfelt, simple way. The book is “The Cay” by Theodore Taylor.
Every year at this time, when I taught school, I would read this to my sixth grade class (aloud). I loved speaking in the voice of Timothy (the black man who saves Phillip after the ship wreck), he is from Charlotte Amalie, and has quite the accent. But, as I learned to speak as Timothy, I also learned to love as Timothy. I have yet to make it to the end without becoming emotional.
The book is about a twelve year old boy, Phillip, who is shipwrecked and rescued by a black man, Timothy. Twelve year old Phillip’s racial views do not stem from himself, but from his mothers (lesson in and of itself). As a result of the shipwreck, Phillip is left blind which basically is the key point and message Theodore Taylor teaches us. I don’t want to give away the entire story because you really should read it for yourself. Actually, its best to read it a loud to a child. I leave you with two of my favorite parts,
“I told him that my mother didn’t like black people and asked him why. He answered slowly, “I don’ like some white people myself, but twould be outrageous if I didn’ like any o’ dem.” Wanting to hear it from Timothy, I asked him why there were different colors of skin, white, and black, brown and red, and he laughed back, “why b’feesh different color, or flower b’different color? I true don’ know, Phill-eep, but I true tink beneath d’skin is all the same.”
And the best of all:
“It rained that night, a very soft rain. 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.
May we all remember the power of love.