I love Jaws - it's one of my all time favorites, but this bit has always bugged me.

It's the scene near the end of the movie. The Orca and her crew are being chased by the shark. But it's still about 50 metres away, and doesn't appear to be gaining. Yet for some inexplicable reason, Quint turns the throttle up. Also you can see from previous shots that land isn't that far away, and it seems like if they just keep a narrow distance they should make it back to land before the shark can smash the boat.

In the original script the Orca's engine blows out because the shark is thrashing around on it, which makes more sense.

The Orca shudders from side to side. From Hooper's point of view we can the shark gripping the transom in his jaws, shaking the boat as he saws his massive head from side to side, trying to tear a chunk out of the very hull. Quint has reloaded and is firing into the fish. Brody has a wicked pointed gaff, and is swinging wildly at the snout, gashing and gouging it, trying for the eyes. The killing lust is on all three men.

QUINT Throttling back!

The boat surges, the shark gives a final unbalances wrench, and disengages. The dorsal fin circles off, beginning a wide loop around the boat.

The engine quivers and dies, the boat without power, rolling half awash, a wounded victim.

The fin dips, the barrels follow, the shark disappears beneath the waves. There is complete silence.

Any thoughts?

  • Is that the final script because the screenplay I found is different?
    – Paulie_D
    Mar 29, 2017 at 9:30

6 Answers 6


By the time that happens, Quint has become totally obsessed with defeating the shark. His behaviour is initially pretty erratic and he becomes more obsessed over time. Remember he smashed the CB radio, thus preventing any chance of calling for help.

There is almost certainly an element of Captain Ahab from Moby Dick in the character of Quint, a complete fanaticism to kill the shark that prevents otherwise lucid thoughts of survival. In another parallel with Moby Dick and (specifically) Ahab, Quint had previously been traumatised in the USS Indianapolis incident.

From the beginning Quint did things his way, which, on the face of it, were not the most sensible of options. For example, Hooper has a well equipped boat in better condition (and faster) than the Orca - why not use that ?

Quote from Wikipedia:

Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is the most notable artistic antecedent to Jaws. The character of Quint strongly resembles Captain Ahab, the obsessed captain of the Pequod who devotes his life to hunting a sperm whale. Quint's monologue reveals a similar obsession with sharks; even his boat, the Orca, is named after the only natural enemy of the white shark. In the novel and original screenplay, Quint dies after being dragged under the ocean by a harpoon tied to his leg, similar to the death of Ahab in Melville's novel.[80] A direct reference to these similarities may be found in Spielberg's draft of the screenplay, which introduces Quint watching the film version of Moby-Dick; his continuous laughter prompts other audience members to get up and leave the theater


  • 3
    I think Quint had survivor's guilt. He thought he should have died with his shipmates on The Indianapolis, so he was forcing the situation. Either he or the shark were going to die this time.
    – user43097
    Mar 29, 2017 at 18:09
  • Thanks Pat -- so he was basically obsessed and irrational at this point. Therefore he made a stupid decision ;) Also the comment from the guest - that also makes a bizarre kind of sense. Maybe he was a bit conflicted - wanting to survive (therefore gunning the engine to get back to land), but also wanting to kill the shark (and so gunning it to hard). Such a great movie, and such a great character and actor. PS: my quote was not from the movie screenplay but from the original screenplay by Peter Benchley. imsdb.com/scripts/Jaws.html Mar 29, 2017 at 23:07

I just watched the scene and looked online to see what people thought. As for the last reply, I don't think he took a gamble at all. He could see that he was blowing the engine, they zoomed in on the tach several times. He intentionally blew the engine, and he could have backed off as it was falling apart. Whether he wanted to die or wanted an 'end all battle' is up to you to decide as the movie doesn't give a definitive answer. I don't necessarily consider this the same as him destroying the radio though. He did that to keep others away from his battle. Blowing the engine cost him the battle, which is why it doesn't make rational sense.


I think Quint wanted to inflict as much pain as possible on the shark, and I believe he wanted to will the Orca to do what it could not do: move at full throttle while approaching land. Quint and Orca were one. He refused to admit that the shark had injured Orca. He wanted to totally defeat the shark, and would only accept full victory. He gambled, and he lost. He felt that Brody and Hooper were collateral that could be lost.


I think he's scared beyond reason in this scene. Survivors guilt is part of earlier actions, I believe, but in this scene he just wants to get back to land and away from the shark. It's like he knows its his destiny to die this way but is trying to outrun it. I think he shows real fear in this scene, and then once the engine blows, there is nothing for it to turn and face his fears.


Basically because Quint is being a hot shot.

In all seriousness I laughed for like a month over this scene. I even drew a comic about it and wrote in clip-lines from this movie although I really embellished them some where hooper kept making calculations of how far land was and how thick the engine's smoke kept getting.

Quint is so dumb here. It's like they've already won the ball game and all Quint needs to do is kneel down on the ball and that's it, but it's like he's going for another touchdown.

That's what makes it so funny. I mean I've never seen anyone act so dumb before in cinema history.

  • 1
    You have never seen anyone act so dumb before in cinema history? You have obviously never seen an Adam Sandler film ;) Apr 20, 2017 at 18:57
  • I mean granted Adam Sandler is really dumb in these films, but what I meant is that that's his role, Quint is supposed to be so smart and the holy savior here. He's like a 13-3 coach and yet he's acting like a hot shot when they totally have the shark in the bag. I mean he's suddenly so dumb and stupid here. It's like all the trouble they've been through and they finally got their monster totally captured and Quint's almost purposely trying to lose the game now.
    – Grant
    Apr 22, 2017 at 1:36
  • @Grant kindly avoid answer section for comment purposeless
    – Ankit Sharma
    Apr 22, 2017 at 8:44

Because he's terrified... plain and simple. He's never going back into the water to wait to be eaten... he's getting close to land. He can't admit that he's terrified... but that's what he is.

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