Where the Crawdads Sing (2022): Embark On A Scenic Trip Into The Marshland With Kya


“Carolina knows; why, for years, I roam, Free as these birds, light as whispers, Carolina knows…” ‘Carolina Knows,’ by Taylor Swift, is the theme song of the movie ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ (2022). It signifies that the Carolina marsh knows everything about Kya, the film’s female protagonist, and this marsh, which in itself is a character, becomes the essence of the movie.

‘Marsh is not a swamp. Marsh is a space of light,’ says Kya, the Marsh Girl, as the movie begins.

The film portrays marshland as Nature’s wilderness, where water flows high and lush vegetation grows. The creek cuts artistically through the mangrove forests, and the long-legged marsh birds create a roar and quiet ambiance. Where the Crawdads Sing applauds the wild yet beautiful ecology by showing nature’s imagery and unfolding the Carolina marshland.

Based on Delia Owens’s bestselling 2018 novel, this Resse Witherspoon-produced drama is a riveting coming-of-age narrative movie of a girl named Kya Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones), which is set in the 1950s and 1960s North Carolina bayou This isolated murder mystery will take your breath away as it gives an insight into how loneliness affects human behavior.

Where the Crawdads Sing (2022) is an agonizingly beautiful love story that deals with loneliness, societal perceptions, and self-reliance and celebrates Nature by intertwining womanhood. Though the movie got mixed reviews, Kya’s story will inspire many to live on their terms. It gives a beautiful message that Nature is the best teacher. To be proud of a movie like ‘Where the Crawdads Sing,’ one must be in love with Nature. For all nature lovers, this movie is a delight for the eyes.

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Delia Owens’s mother often phrased the alluring movie title when she was a young girl. It means to go far inside the bush, away from the modernized world and close to Nature. The plot of Crawdads follows the story of Kya, a pretty wild girl who lives alone in the Carolina marsh from the tender age of ten. After being abandoned by her family members, including her mother, Kya is marooned alone in her marsh shack. Of course, without her family, Kya is threatened, scared, insecure, and isolated. However, she bravely learns to survive in the marsh by following her survival instinct and taking guidance from the natural world.

As Kya ventures deeper into Nature, she slowly gets excluded from humans. She becomes an outsider for the residents of Barkley Cove, a fictional town near the marshland. Kya tries to overcome her loneliness by befriending two men- Tate and Chase. And when Chase Andrews is found mysteriously dead near the fire tower of Kya’s marsh, she becomes the prime suspect. Thus, amid the brilliant metaphors of Nature, a gripping mystery unfolds.

The movie goes through two different timelines, one showing Kya’s survival on the marsh, and the second is the love story alongside a murder mystery. The audience can explore some fascinating themes as the timelines are seamlessly woven with the story through a rhythmic switchover.

Kya’s survival in the wilderness –

Kya touches the breathing, wet earth, and marsh becomes her mother.

With no human existence around her, Nature becomes her family, friend, teacher, and mother. She trusts the wild Nature more than humans. Taking invaluable lessons by observing and being with Nature, Kya learns to survive without a real family by seeing the gulls, herons, fireflies, and the wild marsh. Nature acts as her only companion and prevents Kya from succumbing to loneliness as she learns to care for herself.

Kya’s self-reliance –

When desperate and isolated, every creature returns to those instincts that aim straight at survival. As a little girl, Kya begins earning money by harvesting and selling mussels to Mr. Jumping, who runs a store with his wife on the wharf of Barkley Cove. She navigates through her father’s boat to reach the town, ignoring the ridicule of the townspeople. Yes, Kya is different as she behaves strangely and hides behind the trees when she sees humans in her marshland, but she knows how to protect herself.

She isn’t formally educated but has immense knowledge of the marshland and its creatures. Her creativity is always booming in Nature, and when Tate teaches Kya to read and write, she grooms herself to become a naturalist writer. Her incomparable knowledge of the marsh’s flora and fauna helped her become a reputed author.

In today’s world, where educated modern women continue to seek validation from society and rely on societal feedback, here is a girl who is so confident in her ability and talent that she doesn’t need validation from anybody. Kya knows in the world of biology, her profound knowledge is indispensable. That’s the power she gets by observing and collecting the fascinating native wild around her marshland. Going through all the fragile situations in her life, Kya seeks help from what she only has- herself. This extraordinary independence gives Kya the poise to thrive in the man’s world.

A still from Where the Crawdads Sing (2022) starring Daisy Edgar-Jones

Kya’s lovers, acceptance and betrayal –

However independent Kya is, she yearns to be loved. She falls in love with two contrasting men.

‘There was something about that boy,’ quotes Kya for Tate.

Tate, Kya’s first love and only childhood friend, is sensitive and special as he cares for her. He abstains from getting intimate with Kya as he feels it can ruin her reputation. Tate is the only human who sees Kya’s transformation from a girl to a woman. Though Tate loves and respects Kya, he betrays her as he knows Kya won’t be happy without her marshland. Tate’s betrayal shatters Kya, and she decides not to trust any man in the future.

After Tate leaves Kya, she yearns for the intimacy of a male touch, and she trades herself to Chase Andrews to defeat loneliness. Unlike Tate, Chase cares only about his pleasures and overlooks Kya’s happiness. Moreover, he is a self-centered man.

Tate’s love is free, and Kya can wander and breathe freely, but Chase’s love chokes her. Tate is a giver and Kya’s true lover who accepts Kya as she is, while Chase is a taker, an opportunistic, dominating man who only wants to taste her wild beauty. However, Kya is intelligent enough to know that needing people ends in pain. Yes, she trades her loneliness to Chase, but she becomes a tigress when it comes to her safety.

The prejudiced human society judges Kya –

There are many rumors about the Marsh girl in Barkley Cove town.

‘Is she a scientist or a witch?’

And when Chase Andrews, the lovable boy of Barkley town, is found dead in the marsh, the townspeople presume Kya to be the killer even before the trial begins. The appealing courtroom drama reveals the complexities of human nature and the jury’s biased mind. Kya’s lawyer, Tom, makes the court believe that Kya is innocent and requests the jury to look beyond their prejudiced mind.

‘It’s time, at last, for us to be fair to the Marsh Girl,’ says Tom in his closing statement.

The courtroom battle ends, declaring Kya not guilty, and we see Kya getting back to her marsh home. However, the audience is aware of the harm Chase tries to inflict on Kya, and even though Kya is declared not guilty, the mystery lingers in the audience’s mind.

Kya and Fireflies –

Finally, it’s the ending that matters.

So, did Kya murder Chase, and her beloved marsh swallowed all the evidence against Kya, or was Chase’s fall from the fire tower only an accident? If one understands the inklings of Nature, we will come to know what exactly happened to Chase Andrews. In the marshland, thousands of female fireflies eat the males after mating to protect themselves from the predatory male instincts. In the end, the audience will surely try to evaluate the survival instinct and self-protective Nature of Kya.

‘And sometimes, for the prey to live, its predator must die,’ says Kya.

Two aspects make the movie splendid: the spectacular cinematography and how the mystery is exposed to the audience. It must be one of the unique movies where the murder mystery is solved through the clues of Nature and poetries.

Kya’s Mother –

Within all the worlds of biology, Kya searched for an explanation of why a mother should leave her offspring.

Does a mother’s survival become more important than her children’s? This question haunts Kya throughout her life. Kya’s anguish when her mother abandoned her as a little girl dwindles as she grows up to understand love and life, yet she craves her mother’s company till her last breath.

Loneliness is bad. We see many people falling prey to it. In today’s modern world, man has strayed away from Nature and, in lonesomeness, become dependent on electronic gadgets. Here is the story of a girl who, defying all odds, learns to stay alone in the wilderness of marshland. Indeed, it is an inspiring story of being in Nature, with Nature, and for Nature. Kya, an eschewed girl, is never ashamed of what she is. And why should she be? Aren’t we all a part of this universe?

The movie offers a profound message about environmental sustainability and the conservation of the marshlands. Let’s not look at marshlands as stuffy places of overgrown vegetation or smelly bug-infected swamps and creeks. By linking the land and the sea, man, and Nature, the marsh fosters our estuaries, and conserving it is essential. Marsh isn’t a place for real-estate developers. Marsh is already developed by Nature to maintain our ecosystem.

Let’s leave the marsh as it is.

Nature has all the answers; one only needs to look deep inside it. For Kya, the marsh didn’t confine her, but it defined her, keeping all her secrets buried. Kya calls herself a female firefly beckoning into the dark reaches of the marsh.

Though crawdads never sing, if one truly understands the enigmatic Kya and yonder alone deep into the wild Nature, one will hear the crawdads sing like a chorus.

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