Where the Crawdads Sing’s Jodie: A Brother’s Return

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Who is Jodie in Where the Crawdads Sing? What happens to Jodie in the book? Do he and Kya have a good relationship?

Jodie is Kya’s older brother and closest sibling in the book Where the Crawdads Sing. Jodie and Kya have three other older siblings, who each leave one by one after their mother leaves.

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Jodie is the last sibling to leave Kya. Jodie and Kya reunite later in the book, and become a family.

Where the Crawdads Sing: Jodie and Kya

Kya was six years old when her ma walked out of the house one morning, slamming the porch door on her way out. Kya was used to seeing Ma walk down the long dirt lane leading from their house to the ruddy road into town. This day, like all the others, Kya ran to the porch to wait for Ma to turn back at the bend and wave. Kya noticed that Ma was carrying a suitcase and wearing her fancy faux-alligator-skin heels. At the bend, Ma didn’t turn and wave. Kya ran to a part of the field where the road to town becomes visible, but all Kya saw was the end of the suitcase disappearing behind a bush. 

Her older brother in Where the Crawdads Sing, Jodie, the youngest of Kya’s four older siblings, stood with her. He promised that Ma would return, that mothers don’t abandon their children. But he didn’t sound convinced. Jodie was seven years older and had always been Kya’s mentor of sorts, teaching her about marsh wildlife and how to navigate the waterways in Pa’s boat. Kya wanted to believe him, but she sensed the suitcase and heels told a different story.

When Jodie found Kya watching the sea at sunset on their private beach, she didn’t have to see his face to know Pa had punched him in the mouth. The way he talked indicated as much. Kya knew what was coming before Jodie even told her he was leaving home. 

Kya wanted to tell him to stay or take her with him. She didn’t want to be left with only Pa to rely on, but she froze, unable to make the words come out. Jodie told her to be careful and hide in the marsh if anyone, even Pa, tried to do anything to her. Then, he turned and walked away.

Jodie Returns

One winter morning, Kya received a massive surprise while working on her third book, a guide to local mushrooms. From the kitchen table, she heard tires rolling over the gravelly lane to her shack. A red pickup pulled in, and she thought about running, her normal way of dealing with visitors, but it was too late. A man dressed in a military uniform was walking to her porch. 

On her porch, Kya stared at the strange man for another second before saying her brother’s name for the first time in more than a decade. Jodie moved to hug Kya, but she took a step backward and gestured for him to come in. Jodie had seen Kya’s book but wasn’t sure if it was her name on the cover. Now, looking around the shack at her collection, he knew positively that it was. He thought her book was amazing. In Where the Crawdads Sing, Jodie had returned.

Over coffee, the siblings talked about Jodie’s tours in Vietnam and degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech. Kya told him about Pa leaving, and Jodie was surprised to hear that she’d been there all alone since shortly after he left. He apologized for leaving her with Pa and not coming sooner. When he returned from the war, he’d assumed she was already gone.

Kya looked at her brother with emotion. She didn’t blame him. He was a victim just as she was. She asked if he knew anything about their other siblings or mother. Jodie didn’t know anything about their brother or sisters, but he’d found out a week ago that their mother had died two years earlier. Kya crumbled at the news


Jodie stayed at the shack for a few days. During that time, he learned about Kya’s survival, which was largely due to the benevolence of Jumpin’ and Mabel. Jodie couldn’t believe it. He asked why Kya didn’t have any friends from school and was astonished to learn she’d never gone and that Tate had taught her to read. 

They took the boat exploring in the marsh, and Jodie reminisced about their siblings. Afterward, they ate a proper southern meal at the shack. Jodie noticed that most of Kya’s stories included Tate, including the fact that he was her first love and had recently confessed that he still loved her. When Kya told him that she could never trust Tate again, Jodie tried to persuade her to give him another chance. 

Before Jodie left, he and Kya hung their mother’s paintings in the shack, giving it a more open and warm feeling. Jodie said he would try to visit as often as he could, and he gave Kya his address. After all this time, Kya finally had a way to connect with her brother. The last thing Jodie told Kya was to find Tate. He climbed in the truck, and Kya waved goodbye, tears of sadness and joy streaming down her face. 

Jodie Supports Kya

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Jodie also supports Kya during her trial. Here’s an example.

Shortly after returning to her cell, a guard came to take Kya to meet with her lawyer. Tom wanted talk options. Because of the town’s prejudice against her, it would be hard to win the case. If she plead guilty to manslaughter, saying that she’d been at the tower with Chase and he’d fallen as part of a horrible accident, she could probably get ten years and be out in six. Kya outright refused. She wouldn’t say she was guilty and wouldn’t go to prison. 

Back in her cell, Kya went through the events that led her there. Her family leaving, Jodie leaving, Tate leaving. If any of them had stayed, she wouldn’t be sitting in jail. That fall, Kya had become more inclined to take Jodie’s advice about Tate, but since her arrest, she’d refused to accept Tate’s visits. She hadn’t called Jodie either. Imagine finding each other after so long and then telling Jodie she’d been accused of murder. She couldn’t ask for his support. Depending on people only led to trouble.

The next day, when Kya was led into court, she saw Tate, Jumpin’, Mabel, and Jodie in the front row. Despite what she’d said to Tate and to herself, seeing them there filled her with renewed strength. 

Going Home

Jodie drove Kya home from the jail. She was anxious to see her shack and the environment that had saved her all those years. She rushed into the shack and touched every possession. Jodie had a bag of crumbs waiting for her, and she ran to the beach, tossing crumbs to her seabirds and crying with joy. 

When Kya got back to the shack, she was surprised to find Jodie still in it, so used to being alone. Jodie asked Kya to sit and have tea with him. He wanted to stay and help her readjust for a few days, and he didn’t want what had happened to harden her even more against people. Jodie saw the verdict as a new beginning and thought people would accept her now. 

Kya didn’t want to hear anything Jodie had to say. She wanted to be alone, as she’d always been. Kya left the shack and disappeared into the forest, but Jodie couldn’t bring himself to leave. He made dinner, hoping to try again when Kya returned, but she never did. 

Kya waited for Jodie to leave before she returned home. She tried to paint, but the images were dark and angry. Kya didn’t know what to do with all the furious emotions she felt, and she was suddenly remorseful for the way she’d treated Jodie. She sank to the floor and cried. Later, Kya found a pelican feather on the beach. It reminded her of the one Tate had given her. She recited a poem by Amanda Hamilton about trying to break free but being haunted by her lover’s eyes. 

The contractor who’d renovated Kya’s home built a lab for Tate and a studio for Kya behind the shack. They expanded the bedroom and living area inside, and the shack became a cozy cabin. Jodie and his wife, Libby, often visited, and the four of them would explore the marsh. 

Saying goodbye to Jumpin’ brought up feelings of Kya’s mother. She took a moment to say goodbye to her past. She remembered the day Ma walked down the lane in her crocodile shoes, but this time, Ma stopped and waved. Kya felt a release for the first time. Her grief was replaced by joy when Jodie started bringing his children, Murph and Mindy, to visit. Finally, Kya was surrounded in the shack by family. 

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Jodie was Kya’s closest family for a long time, and she was devastated by his abandonment. He had taught her everything she knew about the marsh. Later in Where the Crawdads Sing, Jodie and Kya become a family once again.

Where the Crawdads Sing’s Jodie: A Brother’s Return

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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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