Flying through a violent storm, his airplane crashes into the Pacific Ocean. Chuck is able to escape the sinking plane and is saved by aninflatable life-raft but in the process, loses the raft's emergency locator transmitter. He clings to the life-raft, loses consciousness, and floats all night before being washed up on an island.
After heawakens, he explores the island and soon discovers that it is uninhabited. Several FedEx packages from the crashed plane wash up on the shore, as well as the corpse of one of the pilots (whom heburies). He initially tries to signal for rescue and makes an escape attempt with the remnants of his life-raft, but he cannot pass the powerful surf. He searches for food, water, shelter, and opens thepackages, finding a number of potentially useful items. He leaves one package, with a pair of wings painted on it, unopened.
During a first attempt to make fire, Chuck receives a deep wound to hishand. In anger he throws several objects, including a Wilson Sporting Goods volleyball from one of the packages. A short time later he draws a face in the bloody hand print on the ball, names it Wilsonand begins talking to it.
Four years later Chuck is dramatically thinner, bearded, his hair is longer, and he is wearing a loincloth. He has become adept at spearing fish and making fires. He alsohas regular conversations and arguments with Wilson.
After a large section from a portable toilet washes up on the island, Chuck uses it as a sail in the construction of a raft. After spending...