The Cay by Theodore Taylor is a story about a young boy who is stuck on an island with an elderly West Indian man. The story starts in 1942 in the town of Curacao. Phillip is a young boy who lives with his mother and father. His mother wants to take him back to Virginia because of the war, but the father wants them to stay. Phillip's mother gets her wish and gets aboard the Hato with Phillip. As they are heading to Virginia, the boat is attacked by the Germans and Phillip is knocked unconscious.
When Phillip wakes, he realizes that his sight has been taken away by the bombing. He also learns he is on board a raft with an elderly West Indian man named Timothy. At first, Phillip dislikes Timothy very much. He thinks the man is too strict and won't let Phillip do what he wants. The two end up on an island and Timothy starts making shelter and gathering food and water for them. Phillip is still bitter. He has lost his sight, stuck on an island with a man he doesn't know and doesn't really like all that much. As time goes on however, Phillip and Timothy start to form a strong bond with one another. Timothy is an old man and has many things to teach Phillip about life.
Toward the end of the book, Timothy has taught Phillip how to live with his sight problem. Phillip has grown to care for Timothy. When a hurricane comes to the cay, Timothy uses his body to shield Phillip from the violent storm and ends up dying in the process. Phillip is eventually rescued, but his time with Timothy on the cay has changed Phillip's life forever and he will never forget what he learned during that year.