"The Cay" takes place during WWII. 10-year-old Phillip Enright and his mother are fleeing Curacao for the United States when the ship they are traveling on is bombed. Phillip is rescued by Timothy, a very old black deck hand that was working on the ship. Phillip, Timothy, and Stew Cat (a cat also rescued from the ship)spend two days drifting at sea on a makeshift raft before the finally find refuge on a small cay. By the time they row ashore, Phillip has gone completely blind from a head injury he sustained during the bombing. Initially, Phillip is reasonably firightened by his blindness. However, Timothy soon teaches him that a handicap does not equal helplessness. Timothy refuses to allow Phillip to sulk and teaches independence by showing him how to make his way around the island, how to fish and weave sleeping mats. Taking Timothy's age into consideration, readers could infer that Phillip's gaining independence was important to Timothy because he knew that there may come a day when he wouldn't be around to help Phillip. Timothy and Phillip are stranded for nearly 4 months when a terrible hurricaine hits the island. The two tie themselves to a palm tree and Timothy is killed protecting Phillip from the storm. Phillip buries Timothy and goes about cleaning their camp. While cleaning, Phillip discovers Timothy's last gift to him: a set of fishing rods made from ship debris. Phillip is eventually rescued and returned to his parents. After a series of operations, Phillip's vision is restored.