Martin Brody is the Chief of Police of Amity Island. He is married to Ellen Brody and they have two sons, Michael and Sean. Brody is not a native of Amity Island and, in fact, does not really care all that much for island life. He is drawn into the great white shark hunt that takes up most of the second half of the film as a result of bringing in oceanographer Matt Hooper as a specialist to fill in his ignorance of shark attacks. His initial response following the discovery of the first victim is to shut down access to the beaches, but caves in to political and business pressure from those who fear such measures will destroy the summer vacation revenue on which many in Amity depend. After little Alex Kitner is killed by the shark as the direct result of ignoring his own better instincts and cowing to the island’s special interest, he hires Capt. Quint to take Hooper and him out to sea to hunt the shark down and kill it, which he does by shooting a compressed oxygen canister inside the shark’s mouth and blowing it to smithereens.
Matt Hooper is a young, wealthy oceanographer to whom Chief Brody turns to confirm that the first known victim of the shark was indeed the victim of a shark attack and not the gruesome result of a boating accident. Brody and Hooper bond over a shared repugnance toward Amity Island Mayor Larry Vaughn’s almost-comical rejection that the island’s residents and tourists are in very real and serious danger from an enormous rogue shark.
Capt. Quint is the grizzled owner of the charter fishing boat the Orca who Chief Brody hires to take him and Hooper on a hunting expedition to track down and kill the ravenous shark terrorizing beachgoers on Amity Island. Quint was one of the few surviving members of the USS Indianapolis, the ill-fated naval vessel charged with the secret mission of delivering parts to be used in making the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima which was torpedoed and sunk on its return journey, leaving the 900 crewmembers that survived the bombing to fend for themselves for four days in shark-infested waters.
Larry Vaughn is the Mayor of Amity Island who actively obstructs and even derides the efforts by Sheriff Brody to protect residents and tourists by closing down the beaches until the shark responsible for the attacks is captured and killed. Only after his own children are threatened by the shark’s voracious appetite does he finally start to put people ahead of profits. If Jaws has a human villain, it's Mayor Vaughn.
The Police Chief’s loving, supportive, and occasionally very funny wife. Such a description of Mrs. Brody is quite at odds with the character portrayed in the novel on which the film was based. Author Peter Benchley’s subplot about an affair that develops between Ellen Brody and Matt Hooper was mercifully jettisoned to maintain the focus of the narrative strictly on the shark.
Teenage Chrissie Watkins is the first victim of the shark's ravenous appetite. From her brief time on screen, she is characterized as free-spirited and adventurous, hoping to skinny-dip drunk with a cute boy she met on the beach, but who winds up the unfortunate first meal of Amity's great white problem.
The older of Martin Brody's two sons, Michael seems to love going in the water and playing in his boat with his friends. He is nearly made a meal when the shark attacks a man in the local estuary, but escapes with a mild case of shock.
Young and impressionable, Sean is Chief Brody's toddler age son. He is juxtaposed as a symbol of innocence against the backdrop of the shark's second gruesome beach attack. His adorable mimicry of his father's actions shows how much he looks up to him.
Hendricks is Amity's Deputy and an assistant to Chief Brody as he deals with the chaos that the shark's attacks bring to the island.
Jaws Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Jaws is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.