Apparently the man was a Puritan, and possibly his story about sharks (and their jaws) originally had an underlying meaning, somewhat lost thru editing and then later dissipated in the movie version.
Start with heavy-handed symbolism: The seaside town the shark will terrorize is called Amity. Next add ungainly metaphor: "The past—like a bird long locked in a cage and suddenly released—was flying at her, swirling around her head, showering her with longing." Finally, throw in a charmingly awkward lovemaking scene: A couple "thrashed with urgent ardor on the cold sand." The novel opens with that ardor, and after its climax, the still-naked woman slips into the ocean, becoming an opening course for the shark circling below. [italics added]
I do not believe Spielberg 'rooted for the shark', btw.
The Associated Press reported this week that Benchley's initial 100-page book draft was filled with puns. His editor, Thomas Congdon, wrote in the margins "NO JOKES,"
[originally appeared in a longer post
about Backwards City vias]