Crusoe is the youngest of his middle-class family. He is curious and wants to travel the world and sail the seas. His father doesn't think this is such a good idea, and offers a warning that becomes a curse: if you leave home, you will experience nothing but trouble. In this initial set-up, we see Crusoe defying his father's wishes and showing no respect or reverence for God.
Everyone always seems to forget that Crusoe had a life before he landed on that dreaded island. When Crusoe leaves home, though, he has plenty of adventures. He sails to Africa, were he gets captured and made into a slave. After his escape, he is taken to Brazil, where he makes a living for several years on his sugar plantation. He always seems to be running into bad luck, repenting, and then sinning again promptly. This is a pattern Crusoe will follow for a good long while.
On a voyage to procure slaves for some plantation owners, Crusoe is shipwrecked on a desert island. Crusoe is a lonely boy on a lonely island, since no one else survived the shipwreck. Completely isolated, he somehow manages to survive. He also has a spiritual awakening and begins reading the Bible.
After many years of solitude we finally learn that Crusoe is not alone on the island. There are others and they are, horror of horrors, cannibals!
While deciding what to do about the cannibals, Crusoe saves a man from certain death. He names him Friday and teaches him English. Friday converts to Christianity and the two become friends, of sorts. Friday and Crusoe then rescue two more men from the cannibals: a Spaniard and Friday's father.
An English longboat full of sailors lands on the island. Crusoe learns that the men have mutinied against their captain. After Crusoe helps restore order to the ship, the men and captain pledge allegiance to Crusoe and agree to take him home.
Crusoe then returns to Europe with Friday, where he comes into a great deal of money from his sugar plantations. Crusoe gets married and eventually revisits the island in his later years. The novel ends with promise of more of his adventures in the sequel.