Act 1, Sequence 1: Jaws

The INCITING INCIDENT happens as the story begins. Late one night, on a beach along Amity Island off the coast of New England, local teenagers throw a bonfire party. Chrissie leads Tom away from the frivolities towards the water, where she begins to strip down. She goes skinny dipping, but he is too drunk to undress on the shore. Inebriated, Tom collapses and passes out on the sand while a shark attacks Chrissie before pulling her underwater.

Then the water is still. This is the introduction to the antagonist, the great white shark who will drive the story right to the end. Next is the introduction of the protagonist, Martin Brody. Immediately there is tension. His wife does not like their home, but Brody came to the island to escape life and responsibility, as the story will reveal. He has surrounded himself with something he hates, water. He thinks it will protect him from the dangers of life beyond the island, but the irony is that the danger comes from the water.

Tom, who reports Chrissie missing, calls the new Chief of Police to the scene of the attack. They stumble upon Chrissie’s mangled corpse, and the coroner calls it death by a shark attack. Brody does not hesitate; he wants to close the beaches. But the island’s mayor and business owners convince him not to do it because it will hurt the local economy, so in his FIRST CRITICAL DECISION he amends the report to a probable boating accident. He fails to do what he knows he should and is forced to watch the water anxiously. The locals misunderstand his apprehension because everyone knows that Brody does not swim, and they chide him about his apparent fear of water.