Study Guide

Jaws Summary

Jaws Summary

Dun dun.

A terrifying, unseen force beneath the water kills a girl as she's skinny dipping in the ocean off Amity Island. Chief Martin Brody investigates and concludes it was a shark attack. He tries to close the beaches, but the mayor of Amity, Larry Vaughn, pressures him to forget it. It's almost the Fourth of July weekend and he's afraid of ruining the tourist season by making the attack public. He convinces Brody to record the death as a boating accident. Soon after, Brody's at the beach with his family when a young boy is attacked and dragged underwater in front of dozens of witnesses, including the boy's mother. She advertises a reward of $3,000 for anyone who can kill the shark.

Dun dun.

A fisherman named Quint offers to kill the shark for $10,000, and Brody asks the oceanographic institute on the mainland to send one of their shark experts. Enter young, cocky Matt Hooper, a marine biologist who's been obsessed with sharks since age twelve, when he accidentally hooked a small shark while fishing and had to swim to shore while the shark ate his boat. He examines the remains of the shark's first victim and concludes it was no boating accident, but an attack by an unusually large shark.

Dun dun.

A group of bumbling Amity fishermen catch a big tiger shark, but Hooper is sure it's not the culprit. The dead boy's mother confronts Chief Brody, blaming her son's death on his failure to close the beach. Brody and Hooper cut open the tiger shark, discovering that it's not the one that ate the boy. That night they go out in Hooper's boat to search for the shark. They discover the corpse of a local fisherman, Ben Gardner, along with a great white shark tooth stuck in the wreck of his boat. Hooper pries out the tooth but drops it when he sees the pale, decapitated head of Gardner floating inside the submerged boat.

Dun dun.

Mayor Vaughn refuses to believe there's a great white shark prowling the ocean and insists they keep the beaches open, much to the Chief's frustration. The next day, despite all the precautions taken by Brody and Hooper, who are furiously pacing the beach and scanning the water, the shark returns and kills a boater right in front of Brody's son Michael. Brody convinces a traumatized Mayor Vaughn to hire Quint to kill the shark. Quint grudgingly agrees to let Hooper and Brody accompany him on the hunt. The running joke is that Brody, Chief of Police in a beach town, is scared of the water. He's not happy to have to do this but feels he owes it to the people he was hired to protect.

Dun dun.

The three men head out on the ocean to find the great white. Quint ridicules Hooper's fancy scientific gear as tensions run high between all three men. They search for the shark for some time before he suddenly appears, revealing his unbelievable size. A traumatized Brody, the first to see him, delivers his classic line, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." The men chase the shark and Quint shoots a harpoon into his back, attaching a buoyant barrel meant to tire the shark out. The barrel doesn't even slow him down, and he return to the depths. That's some shark.

Dun dun.

That night, the men get drunk and bond over their scars and sing sea shanties as they wait for the shark to reappear. We get some backstory on Quint's vendetta against sharks. He was one of the survivors of the USS Indianapolis, a ship that was sunk after delivering bomb components during WWII. Many of the crewmen went overboard and were killed by sharks as they waited for days to be rescued.

Dun dun.

The shark reappears and rams the boat. Quint shoots another barrel into his back, but he still manages to submerge. The next morning the shark returns and Brody tries to radio for help. Quint takes a baseball bat to the radio; his obsession with killing this shark has clouded his judgment, we'd say. They try to tow the shark home, but he's too strong and instead begins towing them back out to sea in an incredible display of power. When the men try to flee from the shark, he chases the boat until its damaged engine blows up. Very Moby-Dick.

Dun dun.

At this point, even Quint has run out of ideas. He asks Hooper what he can do with his fancy equipment. Hooper goes underwater in his shark cage with a poison-tipped spear, but the spear floats to the ocean floor after the shark sneaks up from behind and rams the cage. The shark totally destroys the cage and Hooper's barely able to swim out of the cage and hide in a cave on the sea floor.

Dun dun. Dun dun. Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun…

The enraged shark leaps onto the back deck of the boat and, in a horrible sequence, kills the screaming Quint. As the boat sinks, he comes back for Brody, who manages to lodge a compressed air tank in the corner of the shark's mouth. The shark circles around to attack again. At the very last second (of course) before the boat sinks, Brody grabs Quint's rifle and shoots the air tank, which explodes and obliterates the shark. Hooper resurfaces, and Brody and Hooper paddle home on some floating debris.

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • A group of teen party-goers are gathered on the beach doing teen party things: smoking, drinking, playing folk guitar, boiling lobsters, open-mouthed kissing… Blech!
    • A blonde girl named Chrissie runs off with a blonde boy to go skinny-dipping in the ocean.
    • She jumps in and starts swimming out to a buoy, but he's too drunk to make it to the finish line and passes out on the beach. Teens, alcohol, and the beach. What could go wrong?
    • The camera switches to an underwater POV angle. Who's watching? Cue the scary music! Something strong pulls Chrissie underwater and thrashes her around like a rag doll.
    • Back on the beach, loverboy doesn't hear her frantic screams.
    • Finally, she's pulled underwater without a trace. Friends don't let friends go skinny-dipping alone off Amity Island, kids.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • The next morning Chief Martin Brody and his wife, Ellen, wake up in their charming oceanfront house. They banter playfully about doing the chores. Totes adorbs.
    • He gets a phone call and has to go check something out. Ellen says to be careful, but he's like, "In this town? Gimme a break."
    • He drives his cool Amity Police Department truck to the beach and meets his deputy and the boy who was too drunk to go skinny-dipping. His hair still looks ridiculous.
    • They discover what's left of Chrissie's body getting eaten by crabs, which grosses everybody out.
    • Brody returns to the police station to type up a report on Chrissie's death. He types in SHARK ATTACK as the probable cause of death.
    • Everybody keeps bugging him with trivial problems—illegal parking, kids karate-chopping fences, etc. Fill out the form, folks! Sheesh! He's trying to get everyone out of the water and close the beaches so nobody else gets eaten.
    • Mayor Larry Vaughn hears that Brody's trying to close the beaches and chases him down with a group of his cronies.
    • Vaughn tells Brody that it couldn't have been a shark that killed Chrissie, so he shouldn't close the beaches or say anything about a shark.
    • The town's livelihood depends on Amity's ability to attract summer vacationers, after all. Wouldn't want to have a panic on our hands on the 4th of July, would we?
    • Brody backs down. He is very new, after all.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • Brody and his family are enjoying a nice day at the beach, along with about half of Amity.
    • Swimmers frolic in the waves as Brody looks on anxiously. A fat lady, a dog, a playful couple, and a young boy named Alex Kintner are all just a splishin' and a splashin.'
    • People continue to pester Brody with their petty little problems. Shut up about the parking already.
    • An islander named Harry teases Brody about his fear of water as his kids go into the water.
    • A dog playing in the water seems to disappear...
    • Ohhh no… The camera shifts to that shark's-eye view again, and the music starts. The camera zooms in on Alex Kintner's raft!
    • From the beach, we see a shark's tail flail out of the water as Alex is grabbed from beneath. Onlookers gasp in disbelief as a fountain of blood gushes out of the water and the boy is dragged under.
    • Cue the cool camera zoom effect shot of Brody's shell-shocked face.
    • An oil slick of blood spreads through the waves as everyone rushes out of the water.
    • Alex Kintner's mother searches for him amid the confusion, and his bloody and ripped raft washes ashore.
    • At the town hall it's pandemonium as everyone tries to make sense of what happened on the beach. Mrs. Kintner is apparently advertising in out-of-town newspapers that anyone who kills the shark will get a reward of $3,000.
    • The mayor holds a town hall meeting crowded with townspeople and officials.
    • Brody says he's bringing in an expert from the oceanographic institute on the mainland and he's closing the beaches, causing an uproar from concerned business owners.
    • Vaughn promises it will only be closed for 24 hours over Brody's protests.
    • Amid the bedlam Mr. Quint, a local fisherman, offers to kill the shark for $10,000 in order to save the town's tourist season. Vaughn says they'll consider it.
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • Brody's at home engrossed in a book about sharks. His wife startles him. He just can't believe how little people know about sharks.
    • She tries to help him relax, but when he learns his son Michael's sitting in a sailboat tied to the jetty, he leaps up and yells for him to come back on land.
    • Ellen thinks he's overreacting at first, but when she sees an illustration of a shark breaking through a boat hull, she flips out too.
    • That night, two bumbling locals go to a jetty to try to catch the shark. They tie a chain and a hook to the jetty, stick a holiday roast on the end, and throw it into the ocean. The tide takes it out to sea.
    • Brody continues researching sharks. He sees creepy images of sharks, beaches, huge prehistoric shark fossils, and shark attack wounds.
    • Meanwhile, those bumbling dorks have been waiting for a while. Suddenly something grabs the roast and starts dragging it out to sea. When the chain runs out, the jetty gets yanked in half, bringing one of the fishermen (Charlie) with it out to sea.
    • Suddenly we realize that the shark must have turned around because the dock's moving back toward Charlie struggling through the water. His friend tells him to swim for it, but the dock's getting closer!
    • As Charlie struggles to climb up onto the demolished jetty, the broken piece floats harmlessly to shore.
    • The next day, the harbor's crowded with amateur shark fishermen. Brody tries to maintain some kind of order as Matt Hooper, the shark expert, arrives on the island looking for him.
    • He finally gets Brody's attention and introduces himself. They decide to go perform an autopsy on Chrissie Watkins' remains.
    • A bunch of cockamamie fishermen hunt for the shark, chumming the water and dropping explosives into the water.
    • In the autopsy room, Hooper sees that the official cause of Chrissie's death is "probable boating accident." After examining the evidence, he says what we already knew: This could only be a shark attack.
    • Back on the dock, the excited fishermen display a bloody shark carcass. The newspaper's trying to stage a photo, and everyone thinks their troubles are over.
    • Quint pilots his boat past, smirking at all the bozos on the dock.
    • Hooper examines the shark and he's pretty sure this isn't the shark they're looking for. He wants to cut its stomach open, but Vaughn doesn't want to cause a scene in front of everyone.
    • Mrs. Kintner approaches Brody and slaps him in the face because he knew about Chrissie Watkins, but did nothing. Vaughn tells Brody she's wrong to blame him, but Brody knows she's right.
    • Vaughn plans to have the shark dumped into the ocean tomorrow.
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • Brody's sitting at the dinner table all depressed and lost in thought. His youngest son, Sean, starts mimicking his actions as Ellen watches. He gives his dad a much-needed kiss. On a cute scale of one to ten, this is an eleven.
    • Hooper arrives and invites himself in for dinner and actually starts eating from Brody's plate. He brought wine, though, so it's cool.
    • Ellen asks Hooper about his job. He says he's loved sharks ever since one of them ate his boat when he was a kid. Okay. Anyway, he's convinced those fishermen caught the wrong shark, and he plans to leave tomorrow and report as much.
    • Ellen tells Hooper that Brody's afraid of water. He's kinda touchy about it. After some discussion, Brody and Hooper decide to go cut the shark open.
    • Hooper cuts open the shark's digestive tract (thank goodness smell-o-vision never took off) and starts yanking stuff out. All they find is fish, a tin can, and a Louisiana license plate. No humans, so their shark is still out there.
    • Hooper wants to go look for it immediately and he strong-arms Brody into coming with him so they can prove to the mayor that they have to close the beaches.
    • They go out in the dark on Hooper's fancy boat and find the wreck of a boat that belonged to a fisherman named Ben Gardner. Brody wants to tow it in, but Hooper hops into the water to examine the hull with a flashlight.
    • He finds a very large shark tooth stuck in a hole in the hull. As he's looking for more clues, a grrrrrross severed head floats through the hole and scares the pants off of Hooper. He drops the shark tooth into the inky sea.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • Brody and Hooper try to convince Vaughn that there's a great white shark out there and they have to close the beaches and pay Quint to kill it, but Vaughn won't budge. If they close the beaches, the townspeople will lose too much.
    • People arrive in droves to swim at Amity. Brody and Hooper frantically try to make the beaches as safe as possible. Brody has gunmen patrolling in boats and a helicopter circles overhead.
    • All the news about the shark is keeping people from swimming in the water, so Vaughn pressures one of his lackeys to get in the water with his family. Others see them and follow suit.
    • Michael Brody tries to launch his sailboat into the ocean with some friends, but Brody convinces him to sail in a protected estuary they call "the pond."
    • The camera moves to a shark's-eye view. No scary music yet, though. The watchmen are on edge, but everyone else is having a great time in the water. Mayor Vaughn claims in a TV interview that their shark problems are over.
    • Suddenly, a shark fin appears near some swimmers, and everybody panics. A few people are trampled in the stampede of people rushing out of the water, but it turns out to be a couple of kids playing a prank with a fake shark fin. Boys will be boys.
    • And sharks will be sharks. While everyone's focused on the activity on the beach, a real shark swims into the pond, where Michael and his friends are sailing along with their Boy Scout leader.
    • The shark knocks both boats over, grabs the Boy Scout leader, and pulls him screaming under the water. His severed leg plops onto the seabed like a dropped hot dog.
    • The shark turns around and heads back to sea as Brody and his wife rush to tend to their son, who's gone into shock. Brody stares out at the ocean after the shark. "We will meet again, my fine fishy friend," he doesn't say but is probably thinking.
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • At the Amity hospital, Michael's fine. Brody tells Ellen to take Sean home ("Back to New York?" she asks. "No," answers Brody. "Home here.") and strides over to Vaughn, who's muttering to himself. He's feeling like a real idiot right about now.
    • Brody convinces him to sign a voucher to pay Quint to kill the shark and walks out of the hospital like a man on a mission.
    • They meet Quint inside his boathouse, which is full of shark jaws from previous hunts. They've clearly found their man, but Quint behaves rather strangely and he really doesn't like Hooper.
    • He makes fun of Hooper's wealthy upbringing, his education, and his soft hands. Quint wants to go alone to get the shark, but Brody convinces him to let them both come along.
    • As they're loading Quint's boat, the Orca, Quint keeps bullying Hooper about his scientific gear. He thinks the anti-shark cage is a particularly useless piece of junk.
    • Meanwhile, Ellen's making sure Brody has his Dramamine, socks, clean underwear, the works. You kind of expect Brody to say, "Mom! You are embarrassing me!" But it's kind of sweet, too.
    • Quint tells bawdy jokes and sends Ellen away in tears. Sensitive he ain't.
    • The camera watches the boat pull away through some shark jaws hanging in Quint's boathouse. Quint sings and laughs maniacally as they leave the harbor.
    • Out at sea, Quint puts Brody on chum bucket duty and explains how they'll harpoon barrels to the shark's back to bring it near the surface and tire it out. He continues to mock Hooper's neat-o equipment.
    • Brody accidentally loosens a rope fastening a compressed air tank to the deck. Hooper yells at him and says if he's not careful the tank will explode. Foreshadowing alert.
    • Later, Quint's trying to teach Brody how to tie knots when something starts to tug on his fishing rod. He straps himself into his chair just in time for the line to start running out to sea. Something's taken his bait, and it's taking a lot of line.
    • Quint calls Hooper an idiot as Hooper pilots the boat to follow whatever's on the end of Quint's hook.
    • Suddenly he realizes that it's gone under the boat. It's a very smart, very big shark, he says, but Hooper doubts it. He thinks it's a sport fish.
    • Suddenly, whatever's on the hook bites right through Quint's piano wire fishing line. Hooper and Quint continue to bicker.
    • Later on, Brody's bored, frustrated, and still scooping chum when out of nowhere a giant shark head breaks the surface right next to the boat. He slowly backs into the cabin and tells Quint, "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
    • Quint comes out just in time to see the shark's fin approaching the boat. As it passes, the men realize how enormous the shark is—25 feet long and 3 tons.
    • Brody and Hooper are dumbstruck, but Quint gets right to work. He shoots a harpoon with a barrel attached into the shark's back. They circle around to attach another barrel, but the shark goes under with the barrel.
    • Brody wants to go back to Amity and get a bigger boat, but Quint says they need to wait out there until the barrel forces the shark to the surface.
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • As the men wait for the shark to resurface, they enjoy a few drinks in the cabin. Quint and Hooper start to loosen up and compare the scars each has received in his travels.
    • Quint tells how he served on the USS Indianapolis in WWII when it was sunk by a Japanese submarine. Hundreds of crewmen stranded in the water were eaten by sharks. He describes how unfeeling and deadly sharks are. So Quint definitely has some issues.
    • The men hear whales singing, and they join in with some rousing sea shanties. Just as they're getting to verse seven of "Show Me the Way to Go Home," the barrel pops to the surface, signaling the shark's return.
    • He pounds on the sides of the boat, causing serious damage. Quint takes out his WWII rifle and starts taking shots at the shark, just for a lark. He misses his mark, and the shark leaves the boat in the dark.
    • The next morning, as the men are trying to fix the battered engine, that dang barrel pops up again. Hooper and Quint try to pull the barrel in, but the shark pops up, snapping its jaws (hey, that's the name of the movie!).
    • Quint tells Brody to start the engine, but Brody's done. He tries to call the Coast Guard for rescue, but Quint takes a club and smashes the radio to bits.
    • Brody goes nuts at Quint. No time for couples counseling, though: The shark's coming back toward them.
    • Quint shoots the shark with two harpoons and Brody shoots it several times with his revolver. The shark drags the barrels underwater, but soon resurfaces.
    • Brody wonders why they're not leading the shark into shore rather than letting the shark lead them out to sea.
    • They snag the barrel ropes and tie them to the stern cleats at the rear of the boat to tow the shark into land. But the shark starts to pull the cleats out of the hull, so Quint shoots a third barrel into him. That just makes him mad and he starts powering away from them, then actually starts towing them.
    • The boat's getting swamped and the engine's struggling. They finally cut the ropes.
    • Contrary to Quint's expectations, the shark pulls all three barrels underwater. Quint decides they should head back to land to try to drown the shark in shallower water. Brody thinks that sounds great.
    • As they're heading into shore, Quint pushes the boat's engines too hard, despite Hooper's warnings, and the engine explodes, stranding the men in the sinking ship.
    • Quint finally caves and asks Hooper how his equipment might kill the shark. Hooper says he brought poison that he can stab into the shark's mouth if he gets close enough.
    • They decide Hooper will have to go into the water in the shark-proof cage and give it a go.
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • Hooper puts on his SCUBA gear and grabs his poison-tipped spear. Quint and Brody lower him and the cage into the water.
    • The shark swims past once then disappears before suddenly ramming the cage, bending the bars and knocking the spear out of Hooper's hand. The shark dismantles the cage and Hooper barely escapes alive. He swims to the ocean floor as the shark gets caught in the mangled cage.
    • Back on the deck of the Orca, Quint and Brody pull up the wreckage of the cage. As they stare dumbly at the twisted metal, the shark leaps out of the water onto the stern of the boat.
    • Quint slides down the boat and gets crushed in the shark's jaws (there it is again) and he's dragged into the water screaming as Brody watches in horror.
    • Brody's fumbling inside the cabin of the sinking ship when the shark breaks through the window and tries to eat him.
    • He grabs a compressed air tank and shoves it into the corner of the shark's mouth.
    • The shark retreats temporarily and Brody grabs Quint's rifle and a harpoon to defend himself as he climbs the mast of the fast-sinking boat. How can this possibly end well?
    • As the shark charges Brody once again, he takes aim with Quint's rifle and fires at the compressed air tank in the shark's mouth.
    • He finally scores a hit and the tank explodes, tearing the shark apart. His carcass sinks to the bottom of the ocean in a cloud of blood.
    • As Brody celebrates, Hooper resurfaces in his SCUBA gear.
    • Brody tells him Quint didn't make it.
    • They build a life raft out of some floating debris and paddle back to shore.