Was Chase Andrews a Manipulative Partner?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Is Chase Andrews in Where the Crawdads Sing an example of manipulative partner? What did he do and what happened to him?

Where the Crawdads Sing offers an important example of what a manipulative partner looks like. Through Kya’s relationship with Chase Andrews, readers can see signs of a manipulative partner. This helps us understand Kya’s relationship, and her motivation for events that happen later in the novel.

Chase Andrews: A Manipulative Partner to Kya?

Kya and Chase began a strange relationship. Initially, Chase tried to pressure Kya into physical intimacy. This was the first sign he would become a manipulative partner.

The next time Kya saw Chase was ten days later sitting alone in his boat off the shore of Point Beach. She knew what he’d done was wrong, but he’d also stopped when she said to and apologized. Her loneliness convinced her to give him a second chance. 

When Kya motored up to his boat, Chase again apologized. He offered to show her a view of the marsh from the top of the fire tower. The fire tower stood in the swamp on the other side of Barkley Cove, a place Kya had never ventured before. Once at the top, Kya greeted the full form of her true soulmate for the first time. The marsh was beautiful in its entirety.

Chase said he knew he was out of line before and would never pressure her again. In response, Kya took a necklace from her pocket. She’d made it with the shell they’d found on the beach. She was planning on wearing it but, in the moment, decided Chase should have it. Chase put it on, letting his fingers linger on the shell. Chase’s pressuring Kya and apology is a tactic of a manipulative partner.

Kya led him to the beach, a piece of stale cornbread in her hands for the birds. As Kya fed the birds and became engulfed in their gleeful dance, Chase felt a stirring inside. He’d never intended to have feelings for the feral Marsh Girl, but he couldn’t help but be entranced by her bravery and beauty. He asked if he could come back again, and Kya nodded.

A Manipulative Partner

During the first week of their relationship, Chase visited Kya every night. They’d take his boat and explore the marsh estuaries. One weekend, he took her farther up the coast than she’d ever been. The water was clear and uninhabited by water plants like in the marsh. Kya avidly took notes on everything she saw. She motioned for Chase to slow down whenever deer or nests were present, and she collected whatever new specimens she could find. 

Chase thought Kya’s habits were ridiculous. He was annoyed with her concern for the wildlife and questioned why she cared so much. When Kya told him she wanted to learn about the marsh, he said all she needed to know was when the fish were biting. Kya laughed despite herself. For the first time, she betrayed her own interests for a man. This is another way a manipulative partner made Kya doubt herself.

Chase and Kya never met in town and never went on normal dates. They were isolated in their courtship, but Chase always remained the gentleman. Then, one night, they were huddled around a small beach fire under a blanket when Chase asked to kiss her. They kissed passionately, but Chase didn’t push for more.

Things continued in this way, but after the first couple of weeks, Chase’s visits became more sporadic. Once again, Kya was consumed with longing as she waited on her beach for the sounds of Chase’s boat, never knowing when he might show up. To shake herself out of this desperate, hopeful routine, she packed a bag and decided to go to the secret cabin. 

Being away from the possibility of Chase’s visits was a relief. Without the sick worrying, Kya was free to explore and read. She’d started going to a library in Sea Oaks, a larger town down the coast, where no one knew her or whispered about the Marsh Girl behind her back. She checked out college-level science books and read to her heart’s content in the cabin. 

When Kya returned to her shack, she found Chase, shaken from the surprise of not finding her there when he wanted her. He started scheduling his visits and was always punctual. 

Kya started fantasizing about what it might be like to be part of Chase’s real world. She imagined them picnicking with his friends, marriage, and children, but every time she thought about broaching the subject, she clammed up. 

Months had passed since that first picnic on the beach, and Chase had kept his promise to not pressure her. One day, they were lazing on his boat off the coast, and Chase suggested they go swimming. He told her he wouldn’t look when she took off her clothes, but when she pulled her shirt off, he stared at her bare chest. Slowly, he began undressing her down to her underwear. To be touched was glorious, and Kya moved against him. But when he tried to take off her underwear, she stopped him. 

Chase protested that it had been long enough and he’d been good. Kya asked what would happen after she gave in. How could she be sure he wouldn’t abandon her once he got what he wanted? Chase said no one ever had guarantees, but he was falling for her. Wasn’t that good enough? Kya searched his expression, looking for a trace of the love he’d professed, but his face was hard and gave nothing away. Still, she wasn’t alone, and that seemed good enough for now. She told him she’d be ready soon.

The End

Kya made a trip into Barkley Cove one day when she needed something Jumpin’ didn’t carry. When she was leaving the Piggly Wiggly, she almost ran straight into Chase’s parents. Patty Love was dressed immaculately, as usual. Kya knew who they were, as they did her, and she hoped to receive some acknowledgment from them. But Chase’s parents stopped abruptly and made a wide circle around Kya, like she was a walking plague. 

That night, while she and Chase floated in his boat, Kya mentioned running into his parents. She asked if she might meet them soon. Chase promised she would and held her hand, but he didn’t look at her when he said it. 

Chase spent New Year’s with Kya, ringing in 1967 walking arm in arm along the coast and making love. Kya forgot all about what Tate had told her, and the winter months continued, with Chase visiting often and staying over on the weekends. 

For Chase’s birthday, Kya wanted to make a special dinner and birthday cake. She took her boat into town one early March morning to buy supplies at the Piggly Wiggly. She was most excited about the cake, figuring she better learn to bake if she was going to be a good wife. Chase had continued to make comments about saving money for their dream home. 

When Kya reached the docks at Barkley Cove, she tied off her boat and walked the path to the row of shops. At the end of the dock, Chase was hanging out with his friends, his arms around a young perky blonde. Kya had never seen Chase in town and wasn’t sure what to do, but the only way to the store was to pass their group, so she kept on. 

When Chase and his friends saw Kya, he immediately removed his arms from around the blonde and casually said hi. He asked if Kya remembered his friends, then introduced her to everyone, his voice losing strength. Kya had been waiting to meet Chase’s friends for so long, and she held her breath, hoping this might be the moment when they could be together for real. She searched for something to say, but the others only eyed her cooly and turned away. Chase lingered, saying he’d be out on Sunday, then hurried away before she could respond. 

Kya finished her shopping and went home. She’d purchased a local paper to read about the new lab opening in Sea Oaks. She read the article at the kitchen table, but when she turned to the next page, her heart stopped. Staring back at her was a large picture of Chase and the blonde he’d had his arm around. It was an announcement for their upcoming marriage.

Violence

Early one morning, Kya motored to Cypress Cove, an area near town she rarely visited. She was looking for mushrooms in the cool, damp brush. She had Tate’s compass tucked into a pocket of her old backpack, and though a month had passed since receiving it, she hadn’t thanked him yet. 

Chase pushed Kya to the ground, got on top of her, and started to pull his pants down. Kya tried to push him off, but he punched her in the face. Chase leered, saying Kya was his. He wasn’t going to let her get away again. Chase held Kya with one hand and pulled down her pants with another. From somewhere deep inside, Kya’s survival instincts kicked in. She used all her force to push Chase off with her knees, then elbowed him in the face. She threw punch after punch until he was on the ground. She kicked him hard between the legs and in the lower back. 

Kya pulled up her pants, grabbed her bag, and ran to her boat. As she started her boat, she saw Chase getting to his feet. She motored hard toward the open water, where another fishing boat sat, two men watching.

The Aftermath

Kya stumbled into the shack, knees and face swollen from the attack. She cried on the floor knowing there was no one to help. Jumpin’ would want to call the police, but she knew they’d never take her word over that of the former star quarterback. One thing she couldn’t stop seeing was the shell necklace around Chase’s neck. She couldn’t believe he still wore it. His words drifted through her head—“You’re mine”—and she knew he would come after her again.

Something about her bruised body made her understand for the first time what Ma’s life with Pa must have been like. Kya vowed she would never live in fear of a man’s abuse again. She went back to the shack, where she would stay until her injuries healed. She didn’t want anyone to see her discolored face. 

A manipulative partner isn’t always easy to recognize. But knowing that Chase was a manipulative partner even before he attacked Kya helps readers comprehend Kya’s status in the community and the stakes for her safety.

Was Chase Andrews a Manipulative Partner?

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Here's what you'll find in our full Where the Crawdads Sing summary:

  • How Kya Clark's abandonment as a child affected her through her entire life
  • How Kya discovered love despite steep obstacles
  • The murder trial that embroiled Kya's town, and the ultimate truth behind the murder

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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