We quickly forget (or choose to ignore) the humanity involved. David was an adulterer, liar, and murderer. Moses struggled with anger management his entire life - he, too, murdered a man. Noah got drunk and committed incest. Our heroes are far from perfect. Our villains are not all bad, either. We tend to overlook that Jonah was a prophet, called by God. Samson was a Judge, also hand-chosen by God to do His work.
The truth is, they are all human and, like us, struggle with sin. If we are honest & see a part of ourselves reflected in their life - we can learn a great deal from each of them, whether we tend to idealize them or not.
I thought I would share what I found out about the Jonah of the Bible while my son was yet in the womb. I didn't use a library of commentaries or interview theology professors. This is simply what Wikipedia has to say (for better or worse).
See the entire article here. My comments & thoughts to what I've cut & pasted from Wikipedia's article are in white italics.
His Heritage: According to the book of Jonah, he was the son of Amittai (meaning 'My Truth')." To me, what was interesting was the idea that Jonah was "the son of Truth." I thought that was a fascinating twist.
"A "Type" of Christ: Jesus made reference to Jonah when he was asked for a miraculous sign by the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Jonah's restoration after three days inside the great fish pre-figured the Resurrection of Jesus Christ after three days in the tomb." I had totally forgotten about this. Academically, I had learned this (probably several times) but had forgotten about Jonah being one of the "types" - I think it's just natural to think of the other "types" that are more popular or talked about more often. This was a nice "re-discovery." It sort of brought a transcendent purpose & meaning into the story of Jonah.
"Jewish Tradition: The book of Jonah (Yonah יונה) is one of the 12 minor prophets included in the Jewish Bible. According to tradition Jonah was the boy brought back to life by Elijah the prophet, and hence shares many of his characteristics (particularly his desire for 'strict judgment'). The book of Jonah is read every year, in its original Hebrew, on Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement, as the Haftorah at the afternoon mincha prayer.
One of the most important ideas in the Jewish religion is Teshuva - the ability to repent and be forgiven by God. The essence and the source of the idea of Teshuva is said to be the book of Jonah: Jonah, the son of truth, (The name of his father "Amitai" in Hebrew means truth,) refuses to ask the people of Ninveh to repent. He seeks the truth only, and no forgiveness. When forced to go, his call is heard loud and clear. The people of Ninveh repent ecstatically, "fasting, including the sheep", and the Jewish scripts are critical of this. When praying, Jonah repeats God's 13 traits failing to say the last one which is "...and Truthful", and changing it with "...and whome is willing to forgive the bad".. God responds by showing Jonah that he is "angry at doing good", and that he too would agree to spare an ephemeral plant  if it has importance for him.
I thought there were many interesting insights in these two paragraphs. 1) I had never heard the idea that perhaps Jonah was the little boy raised from the dead! Wow...intriguing. If so, no wonder he had the characteristic of "strict judgement." He was given a "second chance" so, he better not "blow it" with wasteful living. And growing up as the Son of Truth would only reinforce that idea. Very symbolic & portentous. 2) I found it really interesting that the book of Jonah is read every year on the Day of Atonement and holds a special place in their philosophy about the cycle of repentance and forgiveness. 3) The change in Jonah is interesting (post fish) when he goes into the city preaching repentance/forgiveness having changed out God's traits - switching Truth for Forgiveness. Yet it seems that he has a hard time going the next step to Mercy & Grace (consider the plant). Isn't that very much like us? Judgmental of others (Jonah was sour about the city being saved - those heathens!) and yet didn't consider himself someone "worthy" of God's attention in small ways that mattered (shade & comfort).