Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1043
Chapter 50: The Journal
1970: Kya is surprised to see Jodie in the courtroom the following morning. Chase’s mother takes the stand and testifies that Chase had worn the shell necklace on a piece of rawhide every day for four years. She also testifies that a gift from Kya, a collection of drawings in a journal she’d given Chase, shows an image of Kya presenting Chase with the necklace at the top of the fire tower.
Chapter 51: Waning Moon
1970: Hal Miller takes the stand and testifies that he saw Kya speeding toward the fire tower around 1:45 a.m. on the night Chase died. She didn’t have any lights on her boat. Upon cross-examination, Hal also says that he saw her from sixty yards away and that there was no moon; therefore, it was quite dark. Hal says he believed it was Kya that night because of the form of the figure. He eventually admits that he can’t be certain that the driver of that small boat was Kya.
Chapter 52: Three Mountains Motel
1970: The owner of the hotel where Kya stayed in Greenville testifies that he walked Kya to her room on the night in question and never saw her come or go all night long. After a recess for lunch, Scupper appears in court to support Tate, embarrassed that he judged Kya so harshly when she clearly means so much to his son. Testimony resumes, and Kya’s editor testifies that he met with Kya until around 9:55 p.m. on the night Chase was killed. He also testifies that he’d offered to pay for a nicer hotel in downtown for her. Kya refused, and he agrees that a smaller hotel and one closer to the bus stop fits with Kya’s character. Kya’s lawyer calls the sheriff back to the stand and lays out the timeline. Because the bus was late, Tom insists that there simply wasn’t enough time for Kya to make it all the way to the fire tower and get back on the next bus.
Chapter 53: Missing Link
1970: Tim O’Neal, who owns the shrimping boat, testifies that he could not be certain, unlike his employees, that Kya was the one driving the boat that fateful night. He claims that it was too dark and the boat was too far away to make out with any clarity who the driver was. The prosecution’s closing arguments maintain that the timeline works because Kya is an expert of the marshlands and could have used her familiarity with the area to navigate quickly at night. In Tom’s closing arguments, he urges the jury to be fair to the Marsh Girl for the first time in her life, as they all judged her unfairly in the past and failed to help an abandoned girl for all those years.
Chapter 54: Vice Versa
1970: The jury asks for the testimony of the bus drivers and then the coroner. At 4 p.m., they have a verdict: not guilty. Kya asks Jodie to drive her home and Scupper gives her shoulder a slight squeeze.
Chapter 55: Grass Flowers
1970: Back at her shack, Kya asks Jodie to leave so that she can recover alone from the thought of execution; she insists that she doesn’t understand comfort, as it has never been given to her. When he leaves, she begins planning her next book on marsh grasses. Nearby, Tate is collecting samples when the sheriff stops and takes him. Kya witnesses this and realizes that the thought of Tate being in the marsh is what has pulled her to it every day...
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of her life since she was seven.
Chapter 56: The Night Heron
1970: Scupper’s sudden death was the reason for the sheriff picking up Tate. Tate grieves for the way he ignored his father during Kya’s trial. Sitting at the graves of his father, mother, and sister, Tate recalls his father’s wisdom about the definition of a man. When he returns to his car, he finds the breast feather of a female night heron, a creature who lives in the marsh alone. Knowing Kya is reaching out to him, he rushes to her shack and tells her that he loves her. She responds that she knows that he won’t leave her again and that “even in a time [she doesn’t] remember,” she already loved him.
Chapter 57: The Firefly
Tate asks Kya to marry him, and she says that they already are, “like geese.” He agrees to the arrangement, and they begin their lives together, forever intimately in touch with the marsh.They expand the shack into a proper cabin, and the anger of the town toward Kya eventually subsides. Over the years, they come to a collective consensus that she never should have been arrested. Tate returns in his boat one day with horrible news for Kya: Jumpin’ has died. Kya doesn’t attend his funeral but later goes to see Mabel. They cry together as Mabel tells Kya that Jumpin’ loved her like his own daughter. Kya replies that Jumpin’ was her “pa.” Jodie and his wife visit with their children; Tate and Kya are never able to have the children they long for. Kya publishes seven more books and Tate continues his lab work. Kya is awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At only sixty-four, Kya dies one day while out in her boat; she is found by Tate who receives special permission to bury her on her land. The entire town shows up to honor Kya, and Tate engraves her tombstone with the nickname “The Marsh Girl.” Back at their cabin alone, Tate stumbles across a hidden area under the kitchen floor. Inside a box, he finds a poem by Amanda Hamilton which includes these lines:
The last step, a trap.Down, down he falls,His eyes still holding mineUntil they see another world.
Tate realizes that Kya is Amanda Hamilton. Also in the box is the shell necklace Chase wore on the night he died. Tate destroys all the poems and drops the shell necklace into the tide outside. He returns to the shack to watch hundreds of fireflies beckoning him into the marsh “where the crawdads sing.”