Who are the minor, yet important characters?

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The fleshing out of side characters is not the driving force behind Benchley's work.  With the shark occupying such a central focus in the novel, and its pursuit at the hands of Brody, Hooper, and Quint, the other characters are much more periphery. Of notable mention would be Brody's wife, Ellen.  She is depicted as one who struggles to act as the dutiful wife of the chief of police.  She is disenchanted with the family's economic situation, something reaffirmed during the upcoming tourist season in Amity Beach:

She [Ellen] was born into the same class as the summer residents — Benchley's own class, actually — and misses the luxuries that are so much a part of their lives...Ellen becomes an adulteress. She has an affair with a young oceanographer. Matt Hooper, whose family used to vacation in Amity.

In this light, her role is peripheral to the central action.  Mayor Vaughn might be another side character whose function is to serve as more of a foil to Chief Brody.  In rejecting his decision to close the beaches in order to sustain economic interests, Mayor Vaughn represents the inability to understand and embrace the force of nature.

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