Where the Crawdads Sing

by Delia Owens

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In Where the Crawdads Sing, why does Tate burn the poems and how does this affect his feelings towards Kya?

Quick answer:

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Tate burns the poems because he loves Kya and concludes that she did kill Chase. He realizes that the poems along with the necklace incriminate her in Chase’s death. This realization does not diminish his love, and he wants to safeguard her reputation and legacy.

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At the end of Where the Crawdads Sing, Tate makes the shocking discovery of a box of Kya’s things hidden by the woodpile. When he reads the poems in her handwriting, which she had written under a pseudonym, he realizes that one poem perfectly describes Chase’s death from many years earlier. In addition, the cache contains the shell necklace that Chase had been described as wearing the day he died. Although he is badly shaken, Tate takes the time to go over all the events of that night according to the testimony of the various witnesses at Kya's trial. He figures out the logistics of how she could have accomplished a meeting with Chase.

The wording of the poem suggests that Kya not only saw Chase fall but that she pushed him. Despite the shock, Tate’s love remains undiminished. His impulses to protect his beloved, as well as his ongoing guilt for not having been able to protect her in their youth, also motivate his decision to destroy the potentially incriminating material. Tate is also proud of the life they built together, the trust and respect that Kya finally gained from the community, and the work accomplished and the global recognition it gained her. He knows there is nothing to be gained from keeping the materials, and he acts out of love and a desire to safeguard Kya's legacy.

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