You mus' know how to provite your own self wid feesh.
Phillip and his parents are Americans living on the Dutch island of Curaçao in the Caribbean Sea. Life in Curaçao has become more dangerous now that the second world war has started and the Germans have begun attacking the oil refineries on the island.
When Phillip and his mother attempt to return to the US, their ship is torpedoed by Germans. When Phillip wakes up after being hit on the head, he finds himself on a raft in the middle of the ocean with an old, black man and a cat. A few days later, Phillip loses his sight as a result of his head injury.
After landing on a deserted cay, Phillip and Timothy struggle to get along due to Phillip's anger and racism. Gradually, however, Phillip learns to appreciate Timothy and the two work together to survive on the island. Timothy teaches Phillip how to get food, water, and fire in spite of his blindness.
In July, a hurricane hits the cay. Timothy is prepared for it and secures their knives and fish hooks, then ties Phillip and himself to a tree. They survive the hurricane, but the storm weakens Timothy and he dies just a few hours later.
Phillip buries Timothy and continues to live on the cay, using the survival skills that Timothy taught him. After the hurricane, he rebuilds a brush pile for a signal fire and lights it when he hears a plane flying overhead.
After a pilot spots Phillip's signal fire, a ship is sent to rescue him and he is reunited with his parents. Three operations later, he regains his sight. Phillip returns to life as normal, but he never forgets his friend and protector, Timothy.