Where The Crawdads Sing Ending Explained (In Detail)

where the crawdads sing ending explained

The Where the Crawdads Sing ending is full of twists and turns — here’s the ending explained. Directed by Olivia Newman from a screenplay by Lucy Alibar, Where the Crawdads Sing is an adaptation of Delia Owens’ best-selling 2018 novel of the same name. The film stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya, a woman who lives a simple life in a North Carolina marsh who is accused of killing her ex-boyfriend Chase Andrews. While critically well received, the end of Where the Crawdads Sing has proved divided among audiences. Here’s what it means.


The Where the Crawdads Sing ending sees Kya being found not guilty by the jury. She is set free and moves on with her life, getting back together with Tate, spending their time on the marsh as she’s always done. Kya eventually grows to old age, dying on her boat on the marsh. It isn’t until after her death that the Where the Crawdads Sing character Tate Walker — because she left the seashell necklace behind in a book — realizes Kya really did kill Chase Andrews. There are a few things about the film’s ending to explore, including why Kya is drawn to feathers and how she killed Chase (since it’s not shown in the film). Here is the ending explained and the real meaning behind the themes of the story.

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Why Kya Killed Chase (& How She Did It)

chase andrews where the crawdads sing

For those who haven’t read the book, the Where the Crawdads Sing ending reveal that Kya did actually murder Chase may come as a shock. Kya was a woman of nature, who grew up with an abusive father. Chase was someone who took advantage of her, lied to her, and sexually assaulted her. No matter how many times she tried to tell him to leave her alone, his ego-driven toxic masculinity would not back off. Kya ultimately killed Chase because she didn’t want to live her life in fear, nor did she want to return to her childhood experiences. She knew first-hand what it was like to live with an abusive man, the extent of psychological and physical damage that did. Kya wouldn’t allow herself to repeat that mistake, especially not after she finally had her life in order and a sense of freedom.

What’s more, Kya saw Chase as a predator, and she was a woman who felt her actions were crucial to her own survival. The townspeople hated her and were quick to blame her; Kya felt no protection from them and so she had to protect herself. She was raised in the marsh, which means she was at one with nature and didn’t necessarily abide by human laws or their sense of morality. In a Sharp Objects-type twist, how Kya actually committed the murder, one can only speculate. During her trial, Tom Milton explained that Kya wasn’t even in town when he was killed. She would have had to get on the bus from another town, kill Chase in the night (likely by pushing him off the tower with the loose grate), and take another bus at 02:00 back to her hotel. In the book, it’s at least revealed there was someone in disguise on the bus. This mysterious figure was probably Kya taking the bus back and forth without being noticed. Since Where the Crawdads Sing ending never reveals the exact details of Kya’s actions that night, Milton’s explanation is likely what happened.

The Significance Of The Crawdads Explained

Daisy Edgar-Jones in Where the Crawdads Sing

While the Where the Crawdads Sing ending doesn’t explain this, a few conclusions can be drawn. The crawdads themselves — like crawfish — are water creatures, small, lobster-like animals with shells. Early on in the true story-inspired Where the Crawdads Sing, Kya mentions that people always forget about what’s inside the shell. In many ways, she herself has been in her own shell and the townspeople have forgotten about her, as well as the fact that she is a person with feelings. To that end, Kya essentially hides away from the locals because they don’t like her, and she prefers to keep to herself.

Crawdads being the title of Owens’ book is significant because it’s a reference to what Kya’s mother always told her — to go deep into the woods and listen to what nature had to tell her. By doing so, Kya became more attuned to nature, always watching creatures and learning about their habits, why they did the things they did to survive. While the crawdads don’t actually sing, the lesson passed down from Kya’s mother ensured her survival and allowed her to become one with her surroundings in the book adaptation Where the Crawdads Sing. She was nature herself and the crawdads are a representation of that, as well as Kya’s journey throughout the film.

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Why Kya Loves Feathers So Much

Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya

Throughout the film, Kya constantly finds feathers, often a representation of a piece of nature that many overlook and pay no mind to. This parallels Kya’s relationship to the townspeople, who don’t truly see her and have discarded her as an outsider they don’t want to be associated with. To Kya, feathers are beautiful, each unique to. She draws them, marvels at them, and brings them home with her. Crucially, feathers are of the utmost importance to her because it’s a representation of her long-standing relationship with Tate. It’s how their friendship began. Tate would bring her feathers if he found them; he knew how much they meant to Kya in the young adult drama. Eventually, they developed a romantic relationship, one that always involved the exchange of feathers as a sign of affection and communication.

Why Kya’s Dad Finally Leaves The Marsh

Jojo Regina as young Kya in where the crawdads sing

Before the Where the Crawdads Sing ending, Kya’s entire family left when she was very young and, for a while, she lived alone with her abusive father. However, Kya’s dad eventually leaves the marsh as well, disappearing for good like her mother and siblings before him. For a while, it seemed as though Kya’s father would remain in the marsh with her, if only because he didn’t have anywhere else to go. In Where the Crawdads Sing, he simply never shows back up onscreen, with the story simply forgetting about him.

Kya’s father isn’t shown walking away like her mother and siblings do. Instead, he decides to leave the Where the Crawdads Sing marsh after receiving the letter from his wife about taking the kids back with her. He burns everything she ever owned and gets drunk, presumably leaving not long after, perhaps coming to unverbalized realizations about himself and his life. The letter also comes after he has a brief moment with Kya about his time in the military during World War II, which is presumably why he became an alcoholic. However, the moment is cut short by the letter’s arrival, and he quickly reverts to his angry, abusive self.

The Real Meaning Of Where The Crawdads Sing’s Ending

Daisy Edgar-Jones and Harris Dickinson Where the Crawdads Sing

Nature is an important element of the Where the Crawdads Sing ending, to the point that it’s a character all its own. The marsh surrounds, protects, and comforts Kya. It is her refuge, her home, her love. She is nature and nature is her, and she respects it like no other. The ending of the controversial Where the Crawdads Sing is Kya returning things to their natural state. Killing Chase was a necessity in her eyes, an act she mimicked from the animals who would destroy their prey in a bid to survive. To that end, Where the Crawdads Sing is very much about survival, a lesson to never underestimate those who seem meek and shy.

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Kya was a social outcast, but Chase was a predator to her. He thought he could continue to mistreat Kya, harming her because he could get away with it. But Kya saw herself as part of the nature around her and, when action is taken against her, commits to making things right by fighting back as a prey would a predator that hunts them. Aside from that, the true crime inspired Where the Crawdads Sing makes it a point to mention how Kya wouldn’t be believed (and likely blamed) when it came to her assault, suggesting that people are not truly interested in protecting or helping Kya like nature had always done.

Do Crawdads Sing? Where The Crawdads Sing’s Title Meaning

Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya looking serious in Where The Crawdads Sing

The Where the Crawdads Sing ending does nothing to really explain the bizarre title of the movie or Delia Owens’ eponymous novel. The title of the movie is deeply thematically based, but the question of whether or not crawdads actually “sing” is still on audience’s minds. Crawdads, also known as freshwater crayfish, don’t actually sing. However, there is a meaning behind the odd title, which is chronicled by Owens in her Bones and All-type young adult book.

The title “Where the Crawdads Sing” is based on a phrase that Delia Owens’ own mother used to say while she was growing up. It basically means a place that is far from modern society, or to depart into nature. The phrase itself is repeated in the novel in Chapter 17. While Kya and Chase are looking for a place to go, Chase suggests that they travel to “where the crawdads sing.” The title is thematically significant as it speaks to Kya’s own upbringing in isolation, away from modern society. While there is freedom in her lifestyle, it’s the same way of life that gets her convicted of a murder that audiences only find out in the Where the Crawdads Sing ending she’s truly guilty of.

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