102 pages 3 hours read

Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

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Important Quotes

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“Just like their whiskey, the marsh dwellers bootlegged their own laws—not like those burned onto stone tablets or inscribed on documents, but deeper ones, stamped in their genes. Ancient and natural, like those hatched from hawks and doves. When cornered, desperate, or isolated, man reverts to those instincts that aim straight at survival. Quick and just. They will always be the trump cards because they are passed on more frequently from one generation to the next than the gentler genes. It is not a morality, but simple math. Among themselves, doves fight as often as hawks.” 


(Chapter 1, Page 8)

This quote captures the ethos of the marsh, which is shaped by the inhabitants’ closeness to nature. Their codes of behavior are governed by the law of survival and are distinguished from the more conventional morality and conformity that govern in the town. This passage foreshadows Kya’s eventual transformation from a peaceful “dove” to a “hawk” who kills Chase in order to protect herself.

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“‘Kya, ya be careful, hear. If anybody comes, don’t go in the house. They can get ya there. Run deep in the marsh, hide in the bushes. Always cover yo’ tracks; I learned ya how. And ya can hide from Pa, too.’” 


(Chapter 2, Page 13)

Jodie’s last piece of advice before leaving Kya emphasizes the idea that the marsh is a retreat and a place of protection. It also emphasizes the marsh dwellers’ distrust of outsiders. Kya fully embraces these perspectives.

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“Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.” 


(Chapter 4, Page 34)

Left alone in the marsh as a young girl, Kya sees it as nurturing. This attitude toward nature endures until she is confronted by outside figures against whom the marsh is no protection.

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