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102 pages 3 hours read

Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

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Character Analysis

Kya (Catherine Danielle Clark)

Kya is the protagonist of the novel. Her defining traits are her close connection with the marshes on which she lives her entire life and her efforts to recover from the trauma of abandonment.

Kya starts out the novel as a six-year-old girl who waits hopefully for her mother to return to her after leaving the family because of abuse. Alone with her father after her older siblings also take off, Kya has to use emotional intelligence to dodge her father’s fickle moods and drunken rages. When he finally abandons Kya as well, she shows resilience and creativity by establishing social connections with others who can help her survive and by supplying her physical needs through hard work. At this point, Kya considers the marsh to be the only family she has.

As Kya matures, she becomes a keen observer of the animals and plants. She realizes that an instinct to survive governs the natural world, which gives her moral clarity, and the sense that the marsh isn’t enough to satisfy her more complex social and emotional needs.

However, Kya’s relationships with humans are more fraught than her connection to the land. Several times, Kya experiences another kind of abandonment, which re-traumatizes her.

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