‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Movie Title and Meaning Explained

Where the Crawdads Sing now officially has a movie adaptation of the book on which it’s based. Reese Witherspoon joined the film as a producer with her production company called Hello Sunshine onboard to highlight female-led narratives. Some folks wonder what the meaning is behind the Where the Crawdads Sing title, but it isn’t where some folks would expect it to come from.

What is ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ about?

'Where the Crawdads Sing' meaning with Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya looking at a feather on a stump
Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya | Michele K Short/Sony Pictures

Where the Crawdads Sing is told from the perspective of Kya Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones). She’s a highly resourceful young woman growing up in a North Carolina marsh after her family abandoned her in the early 1950s. Kya must learn to survive on her own, but she feels a breath of fresh air when her friend, Tate (Taylor John Smith), begins to help teach her how to read and write.

A local town jock named Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson) turns up dead near Kya’s home, which puts a target on her back. She’s already a social outcast, but now the town is blaming her for the young man’s death. As a result, she will have to rely on her peers to judge her fairly in a court trial full of mystery and doubt. However, Where the Crawdads Sing‘s title has direct meaning to both the plot and its characters.

What does the ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ title mean?

In a 2019 interview, CBS News interviewed Where the Crawdads Sing author Delia Owens. She provided a new perspective on the book that readers around the world fell in love with. However, not everybody understood the meaning behind the Where the Crawdads Sing title. Owens clarified where she got it from and what importance it holds to her.

It turns out that the book and the movie’s title came from a very personal moment in Owens’ past. The name comes from a phrase that Owens’ mother would use to encourage her “tomboy of a daughter to take to the woods around their rural Georgia home, and listen to what those woods had to say.”

This sentiment makes itself known in both the title and Kya’s journey. She learns that safe space from danger is deep in the marsh, where she can supposedly hear the crawdads sing. This is a direct connection between Owen and Kya, as nature holds a very personal meaning for Where the Crawdads Sing and the author’s real life.

In the book, Tate uses the phrase in Chapter 17 when he’s looking for a place to spend time with Kya. He ultimately suggests that they should go where the crawdads sing. Furthermore, he explains that “far in the bush where critters are wild, still behaving like critters.” It’s a place untouched by humankind.

What are the movie’s themes?

Where the Crawdads Sing injects meaning into trauma in multiple forms. Kya deals with domestic violence, family abandonment, and surviving as an outcast of society. As a result, she feels a deep connection with the marsh that she lived in for her entire life. The townspeople call her “Marsh Girl,” but it’s the only place where she’s able to find any peace.

This place where the crawdads sing is important for Kya’s survival, her journey into adulthood, and ultimately the acceptance of her own trauma.

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