Let’s go straight to the point. The ending of Where the Crawdads Sing is very straightforward, isn’t it? After years of hiding the truth about the murder of Chase Andrews, Kya finally dies peacefully on her boat, in the middle of the North Carolina marsh and her husband and real and true love – Tate Walker – finds a secret book, where the only piece of evidence of the murder has been hidden: the shell necklace Chase was wearing the same day he was killed.
But maybe that’s not the case. Have you ever thought that Tate’s face when he finds the necklace is not a «OMG, my wife is a killer» face, but maybe a «Geez, all this time my wife was keeping the evidence against me» face? Well if you don’t follow me until this point, let me explain a little.
But first things first. In the novel, in the book, Kya does kill Chase Andrews and when Tate finds the necklace, he also finds a lengthy poem where she beautifully describes every single detail of the murder. But in the movie is not the same.
In the movie, when Old Tate finds the necklace, we do not see any poem or description of the murder itself, and what we actually see is like a short dissertation about morality. Of course, Kya participated in Chase’s murder, but she didn’t committed. Or at least, she didn’t do it only by herself.
Let’s move back in time. The night Tate finds Kya scared outside her house, after Chase tried to rape her, Kya remarks she do not want to live in fear, like her mother. We are compelled to believe that Tate just stop the conversation there and left. But, the rest of this conversation is the key for everything.
Kya knows the «good» people of Barkley Cove and she knows if anything might happen to Chase, she will be the perfect suspect. So the plan she makes up with Tate is quite simple. While Tate murders Chase, she will act like she was guilty, just to reveal later she had a very sound alibi: being outside the town with no possibility of a quick return to find Chase and kill him.
The big question is if Tate was actually on board with this plan at first. After all, if for some reason Kya was found guilty, she would end up in jail. So, this is where the shell necklace comes to place. Tate agreed with the plan because he already owned Kya, and he wanted her back, but in the remote case she was found guilty, the only thing Tate needed to do was to reveal the necklace he took from Chase the night he killed him, in the fire tower, and this way Kya would not go to jail.
After Kya was found Not Guilty for the murder of Chase Andrews, Tate returned the necklace to Kya and she promised to get rid of it. Now, the surprise on Old Tate’s at the end of the movie was that Kya actually did not get rid of the necklace, but she chose to hide it in that secret book with some words about morality.
Kya actually got rid of her predator, but she did not do it alone, and this way she made sure Tate would not just leave her once again, like he once did.
If you ask me why the movie just hinted this explanation, I would say that Delia Owens – author of the novel – insisted so much to respect the ending of the story, that it was contractually impossible to show on screen somebody else besides Kya actually killing Chase. But, fun fact, we do not see Kya killing Chase on screen either. What we see in the movie is Tom Milton building a very strong case, and he makes abundantly clear it was impossible for Kya to kill a man, and cover her prints in just one hour.
Do you agree with theory? Comments below!