Jaws and the insular community

The difficulty Chief Brody faces in protecting the Amity community throughout the film is heightened and exacerbated by the outsider status he and his family possess. At 0:36 in the above clip, Brody’s wife Ellen is inquiring when she gets to become an islander, and is told “Never…you’re not born here, you’re not an islander”. The fact the isolation comes from their outsider status alone is emphasised because it would be assumed at first that Brody and family would hold a great deal of respect within the community–he is, after all, the Chief of Police. However, this comes secondary to his status as ‘not from here’, meaning he must deal with the insular attitude and regional focus of the town.

Brody’s status as an outsider is used by the mayor, the town council, and local businesses to explain away the need to implement his safety demands; it is framed as an outsider not understanding their ways, rather than the prioritisation by them of the need to make money over the safety of the islanders. Brody is positioned as a scapegoat, taking the blame for the second death. The sheer number of preventable deaths that result highlights the disadvantages that a community can face due to a determination to maintain a sense of insularity.

Katie Day

One thought on “Jaws and the insular community”

  1. I have not seen the whole film, so perhaps am not in the best position to comment on it. However, I think that it is interesting that the threat that this community is facing comes from the sea. The sea is both part of the island community, because the sea is what makes it an island in the first place, but also not, as it is not part of the land itself. By being such an insular community and creating a dichotomy between “islanders” and “outsiders”, the community is also creating a liminal space, where unknown dangers can lurk. In some ways, this suggests that holding a more transnational perspective, which attempts to move beyond simple divisions between “native” and “foreign”, can be valuable.

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