Chapters 5-7 Summary

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On their third day on the raft, Timothy and Phillip hear the distant sound of an aircraft. Elated, Timothy quickly fashions a torch and lights it, then he holds it aloft in hopes that the pilot will see the smoke. The plane passes close enough to the raft that Timothy can see it. Sadly, the pilot does not notice the raft or the smoke, and soon the plane is gone.

Timothy douses the torch and vows to be ready next time. He is clearly disappointed, but he consoles Phillip by telling him that they “are edgin’ into d’aircraft track” and will surely be found soon. Although he cannot see him, Phillip senses that Timothy is ceaselessly scanning the sea throughout the day. Once Phillip crawls to the edge of the raft to touch the water, and Timothy warns him to be careful because the ocean is infested with sharks.

Phillip spends some time petting Stew Cat, and Timothy comments that the cat is “not good luck,” but he then notes that to “cause d’death of a cot is veree bad luck” indeed. As they drift on the still water, Phillip asks Timothy to describe what he sees. Realizing that Phillip is asking him to be his eyes, Timothy describes the ocean and the sky and the creatures that inhabit these domains.

In the morning, Phillip is awakened abruptly when Timothy shouts that he sees an island. In “wild excitement,” Phillip jumps up and promptly falls overboard. Frantic, Timothy dives into the water after Phillip. He grabs him by the hair, throws him back onto the raft, and hoists himself to safety after him. Timothy is furious and “roar[s]” at Phillip that there are “shark all ’round...all d’time.” When he calms down, Timothy tries to impress upon his companion how close to disaster they had come, warning Phillip succinctly, “Mahn die quick out dere.”

Because of their near catastrophe, both Timothy and Phillip have forgotten about the island. When Phillip reminds him, Timothy laughs and takes his companion by the shoulders to turn him in the direction in which it lies. Phillip asks if there are people on the island, but Timothy responds honestly that it is “a veree smahl islan’, outrageous low.” Phillip is disappointed and suggests that perhaps they will have a better chance of being found if they stay on the raft, but Timothy is determined to get to land. He understands Phillip’s fears, however, and assures him that “from dis islan’, we will get help.”

When the raft drifts close enough to the island, Timothy jumps into the water and kicks it to the shore. He carries Phillip on his shoulders to the land, then returns to secure the raft. When Timothy comes back carrying Stew Cat, he is in high spirits. He calls the island “a beautiful cay” and says that there are many fish and langosta, or native lobsters, for them to eat. Phillip asks Timothy if they are near Panama, but Timothy answers that he cannot be sure. Phillip gets the feeling that Timothy is keeping something from him.

Timothy goes off to explore the island and look for a place to set up camp; while he is gone, Phillip becomes acutely aware of his complete helplessness and begins to panic. When Timothy returns, Phillip imperiously orders him never to leave him alone again. Timothy describes the island to Phillip and says that he has discovered a good place to camp—on a rise “’bout forty feet from d’sea.” After the two share a meal from their provisions, Phillip asks Timothy to tell him the truth about their situation, insisting that he is “old enough to know.”

After a long pause, Timothy reveals that he believes they are in a place called Devil’s Mouth, a U-shaped piece of land surrounded on either side by sharp coral banks. The banks will make it difficult for sea rescuers to find them, but Timothy is hopeful that if they make a signal fire, they will eventually be seen by aircraft flying overhead.

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