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Help for Kya in Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a modern novel created by Delia Owens in 2018. The author narrates the story of a girl who has to learn how to live independently at a very young age. At the beginning of the story, she lived in a rundown shack in the marshlands with her family. Gradually, all the family members departed, leaving Kaya alone with an abusive and alcoholic father alone. After some time, her father left the house as well, and at the age of 10, she had to learn how to survive. The heroine was mistreated by people who resided in the town, and, therefore, she spent the majority of her time alone. In her way, she had to encounter other serious ordeals and hardships. All of them are associated with particular characters in the novel. However, the girl managed to overcome all the difficulties with the help of the closest people, which made her even stronger and more resilient. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to observe the characters and forces attempting to destroy and support the girl and support, making conclusions on the lessons of this story.

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People Trying to Destroy Kya

Father and family

The first people, who challenged the young girl, involves her family. In general, each member of her family contributed to destroying the protagonist, though, namely, her father may be considered the most influential in this regard. The whole story begins with describing Kya’s mother leaving the rundown shack, her children, and her husband. Later, her siblings escaped due to their father’s abuse and alcoholism. Therefore, the girl was left alone with her father, her the only near person she could interact with, but who did not care about his daughter. She had to learn how to find food and cook it for herself, though it should be noted that the father supplies financial support to her to some extent. After some time, the heroine managed to find a common language with her father, which made her enjoy communication with him (Delia 56). Consequently, her father’s leaving may be perceived especially painful for the girl, as he was the only person who interacted with her and cared for her life a minimum of sometimes. The reason for it is his life in poverty due to his fault and without any opportunities to change it, which led to a deep depression, making him indifferent to the outside world.

Despite the psychological challenges presented by the father’s departure, this event led to the necessity for Kya to survive on her own. For this reason, namely, this leaving was meaningful in the heroine’s life, as she had to learn how to live independently and absolutely alone. At that time, the heroine was only ten years old, and such hardships could destroy her and result in her death. However, she managed to survive and, what is more, resist these challenges. The character had already acquired cooking skills to that moment, though she needed to earn money for a living (Delia 30). The fact that she was illiterate aggravated this problem. In these circumstances, the girl attempted to use every opportunity, which can be profitable. Kya collected mussels and smoking fish in order to sell them. Thus, it can be concluded that such a considerable challenge for a child did not destroy the young girl. Instead, she adjusted to conditions and revealed her strong will.


The figure of Tate is double-natured in relation to Kaya in the narration. On the one hand, he is the first love of the heroine, which brought a great number of positive events and things in her life. He showed respect to the girl, attempting to help her via any available means. She conceived an affection for Tate and trusted him, and he was the only person, whom she could communicate, during that period of her life. On the other hand, the boy abandoned and betrayed the girl. He planned to enter college and accepted a job for a summer, though he promised to arrive and meet Kaya at a precise date (Delia 102). However, the character did not visit the girls, as he told her. The reason for it involves his worries of the fact that being a unique girl, the heroine would not fit his ordinary life.

This betrayal could affect the young girl significantly, as she had romantic and pure feelings towards Kya. It implied significant efforts for her to trust a person from the world, which is outside the marshlands, as she was abandoned by her own family members several times (Delia 43). It can be noted that after the happening, the heroine was disappointed and depressed to such extent that she decided not to be so close to people. This could be a turning point in the story, though the girl did not become discouraged. Sometime after the case, she meets a boy Chase and attempts to establish romantic relationships with him.

Consequently, the possible consequence could be the reserved nature of the heroine, who would be unwilling to trust people and communicate closely with them anymore. The betrayal of Tate was extremely painful for her, as he was the only person with whom she could socialize honestly and freely without any abuse. However, Kya managed to overcome these hardships and attempt to establish relationships with other people. Instead of destroying the young girl, this incident made her morally stronger.


Another character, who challenged Kaya, was Chase, with whom she also had a romantic relationship. A range of disappointing and insulting events towards the young girl are connected with him. First of all, at their first meeting, the boy attempted to have sex with Kaya without asking her and regarding her inconvenience in general. Such behavior abused Kya considerably, though, after some time, she agreed to forgive him. This may be perceived as a sign of her kindness and morality. She did not have any plans for revenge and honestly forgot about this insult.

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The characters continued their communication, which resulted in romantic relationships between them. Both of them had serious intentions on their bonds, and Chase even mentioned future marriage. However, the boy did not hurry to invite his lover to his house, introduce her to the parents, and integrate into his outside life in general. Once, Tate returned and warned the heroine of Chase’s betrayal. It appeared to be that the boy had already been engaged with another woman. It should be mentioned that initially, Kya did not believe Tate and attempted to improve the relationships with Chase. Her efforts were fruitless, and she found evidence for his engagement with another woman (Delia 86). Notably, the girl did not construct any revenge plans and attempted to forget all the insults and live her life.

The third humiliating event happened when Chase appeared after a year of breaking the relationships. This time, he attempted to rape Kya, though she managed to protect himself by beating the boy. In this case, the girl was considerably insulted, and she could not bear such behavior in her regard anymore. For this reason, she lured the betrayer to the fire tower and prompted him to fall from a hatch, distracting his attention (Delia 154). The motives that drove the character to such actions were his selfish interests. In this situation, Kya protected herself from the danger posed by Chase, who attempted to destroy her several times. Despite committing an immoral action, it can be considered a sign of the heroine’s strength, as she overcame all the insults from the people of the outside world in the image of Chase.

Allies that Provided Help

Jodie and Kya

Despite all the betrayals and hardships, which Kya had to encounter and overcome, the girl met people, which supported her on her way. The first one was her family member, namely her brother Jodie. Comparing to other siblings, he was the closest to her in the context of age. When their mother left their rundown shack, Jodie did his best, which was possible in these circumstances, to provide his sister with emotional support. He attempts to persuade Kya that their mother would return, reminding the fact that she did not abandon her children at a young age. After some time, he understands that he made a mistake in his assumption (Delia 75). However, he did not reveal these thoughts to his sister, as he was determined to soothe her. Therefore, it can be noted that Jodie is empathic and understands the feelings of Kya. He comprehends that it can be painful for her and made efforts to improve her emotional state.

Although Jodie had to leave the shack as well, he did not forget his sister throughout the story. At the end of the story, he found Kya and apologized for abandoning her. In his adulthood, he often visited her and settled near the marsh in order to provide her with support and help when she needed it. Consequently, Jodie is the first character in the story who attempted to help Kya. The reason for it is his understanding of his sister’s feelings, his kindness, and his sincere desire to help her. Despite the fact that he could not do much, it is possible to assume that this ally contributed to her strong will and morality, which helped her to overcome all the difficulties on her way.

Jumpin’ and Kya

The second character, who attempted to support the heroine in her attempts to survive, is empathetic and kindhearted Jumpin’. He had a gas dock and bait shop, which is located approximately near the marshlands. It should be mentioned that the characters appeared to be representatives of different races, which did not prevent them from providing vital support. The help of Jumpin’ could not be underestimated when Kya attempted to think the ways of earning money for a living. The first time he supported the young girl regarded her effort to collect mussels for selling them. Although he received mussels from other fishers, he took hers as well several times a week. As Kya could not make sufficient sums on this activity, she tried to smoke fish, hoping Jumpin’ could sell them. Despite the fact that the fish did not look tasty, he accepts it (Delia 45). However, instead of selling them, he brought them home to his wife, who is also empathetic to the girl. These actions were useful for Kya in her way of becoming self-sufficient.

Another example of support of Jumpin’ and his wife regarded their decision to tell the heroine that someone they know was in need of trading fish for clothing and other purposes. In reality, there was not a person in need of fish, and they took essential clothes and things from the church and gave them to the girl. Furthermore, in the court, when Kya was blamed for the murder, they provided her with essential emotional support. It should be highlighted that when Jumpin’ died, she felt as if she lost her true father (Delia 145). Therefore, the help of Jumpin’ and his wife was valuable for Kya. The couple was driven by the feeling of compassion and high moral character. With their support, she managed to earn money and find essential things and food. They substituted the family for her to some extent and were emotionally close to each other.

Tate and Kya

The last helpful ally in the story included Kya and her first love Tate. As it has been described earlier, the image of Tate is double-natured in the story. Although he insulted the young girl by not arriving at the precise date, he provided her with valuable help. Namely, Tate taught Kya to read and brought her a range of interesting books on nature, which she was surrounded by. The boy attempted to spend as much time as he could with her. After some time, they take an interest in each other, which resulted in romantic relationships between them. In this context, an illustrative example of his respectful attitude could be his refusal to have sex with the girl. The reason for it was the fact that Tate was 19, while Kya was only 15 (Delia 61). Another example of his empathy for the girl was his support when Kya had to prove her innocence in court.

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Thus, despite his mistake in relation to Kya, Tate truly loved the heroine, which prompted him to help her via any means. He supported her interest in learning to read and poetry in general and revealed her talent. He used every opportunity to help his beloved and spend time with her. At the end of the story, the characters lived together a happy life (Delia 140). Therefore, Tate appeared to be Kya’s main support for the whole life.

The Lesson of the Story

From my perspective, Where the Crawdads Sing, namely the story of Kya and her interactions with other characters, may teach the readers several lessons. First of all, Kya appears to be an illustrative example of the thesis ‘what does not kill makes us stronger.’ Despite her young age, the girl did her best in order to overcome all the hardships and betrayals in her life. In general, all the people, whom she had close relationships, abandon her in different moments of her life. However, these circumstances did not break the heroine, and she attempts to adapt to her challenging life of conditions and find any possible ways for surviving.

Mistreating from town residents taught her to spend time on her own and prompted her interest in nature. Leaving of her family members prompted her to learn how to supply herself with everything she needed, and after her father’s departure, she became completely self-sufficient. At the age of 10, she could cook for herself, find food, and make money for a living. Tate and Chase’s betrayals did not lead to her becoming reserved, depressed for the whole life, and untrustful to people in general. However, it took her some time to apologize to them, and she had to protect herself from Chase, at the end, she could let the past go and live a happy life with Tate. Consequently, all the insulting and abusive situations in relation to the heroine revealed her strong will and determination to live.

Another important lesson from the story implies forgiving people who hurt and abused in the past. Throughout the story, Kya encounters betrayals, and she shows high moral character, as she could forgive them and give them a second chance. She did not adhere to revenge plans, and could forget all the insults and live her life. However, the murder of Chase may be different in this example, as in this case, the girl had to protect herself. Chase violated his promise several times, and he posed a threat to the young girl. In general, the girl did not live with thoughts that she had been insulted by her family members, Tate, and Chase in the past. The heroine lives at the current moment, and in case a person showed his sympathy and respect to her, she could forgive him. This happened to Tate, and such an action was a sign of her morality. Therefore, the example of Kaya may be illustrative that it is vital to leave all the insults in the past, as they can bother individuals to lead their life at the current moment.


In conclusion, in Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens narrates an impressive story of a girl who managed to survive on her own, being abandoned by her family at a young age. Despite the lack of education and adults, who could care for her, she did her best and used every opportunity to make money and supply her with necessary things. The heroine encountered a range of people and forces, which could destroy her. Leaving of her whole family could result in her death in general, and after Tate and Chae’s betrayal, she could become reserved and untrustful to everybody. However, these situations revealed her strength and made her more resilient and self-sufficient.

In addition, she met people who benefited her significantly and attempted to support her through the entire story. Jodie provided her with emotional support when her mother left and during the court process. Jumpin’ and his wife contributed by surviving the girl, allowing her to earn money and supplying her with clothes. As for Tate, he became her helping hand for the whole life. Therefore, the novel may teach us the necessity to adhere to strong will and never surrender without a fight. Furthermore, Kya may be an example of a person who could leave all the insults in the past and live at the current moment.


Delia, Owens. Where the Crawdads Sing. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018.

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