ControversyWhat Is the Truth Behind "Where the Crawdads Sing"? Inside the Delia...

What Is the Truth Behind “Where the Crawdads Sing”? Inside the Delia Owens Dispute

Is the plot of Where the Crawdads Sing based on a real event? There are many questions that yet remain unanswered, and the solution to that is the topic of a contentious dispute.

Before Reese Witherspoon turned Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing into a movie, it was a best-selling novel. The controversy surrounding Owens’ claimed probable involvement in a murder (yes, really) has placed a shadow over the movie, which will be released in theatres on July 13.

Discover the whole details of the Delia Owens controversy, but beware of Where the Crawdads Sing spoilers that are coming up.

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What Is the Delia Owens Debate All About?

delia owens controversy

Prior to becoming an author, Delia Owens worked as a conservationist with her husband Mark, primarily in Zambia to stop poachers from killing elephants. Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story, an ABC News Turning Point special from 1996, included the Owenses.

In it, Mark is seen instructing “scouts” from the Zambian government to fire at alleged poachers in North Luangwa National Park. The documentary also shows an alleged poacher being shot but provides little information about what happened to him afterward.

The son of Mark (Delia’s stepson), Christopher Owens, was then implicated in firing at least two of the three shots at the supposed poacher, according to accounts in The Atlantic and The New Yorker. Both the poacher’s body and his identity have never been recovered.

Mark and Delia Owens have long denied any involvement in the shooting, and Delia has previously claimed that Christopher wasn’t present when the homicide occurred because there was confusion because an ABC cameraman named Chris was present.

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delia owens controversy

Christopher Owens was present at the time, according to that cameraman, Chris Everson. Everson claimed that Mark dropped off him, Christopher Owens, and a “scout” at the location and that when the suspected poacher arrived, Christopher Owens fired the first shot, the scout fired the second shot, and Christopher fired a third shot from outside the view of the camera.

Mark and Delia have both fiercely rejected the accusation that they put the poacher’s body in the cargo net of their helicopter and dropped it into a lagoon, which was reported in The New Yorker.

Everson said that he did not see Christopher Owens after the shooting, and according to a report in The New Yorker, the American Embassy in Zambia had ordered the Owenses to leave the country until the issue had been resolved.

Also retrieved by The New Yorker was a letter purportedly written by Mark in which he took pride in killing poachers. The Owenses are still wanted for interrogation even though they have never been accused of anything in connection with the crime. In the United States, Christopher Owens has a criminal record that includes assault and animal abuse.

Other criticisms of Owens focus on her purported propensity to infantilize Africans in both her fictional and real-world settings, as well as on the spread of colonialist views.

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Is the Plot of Where the Crawdads Sing Based on A Real Event?

Where the Crawdads Sing is not a true story, at least not in terms of the narrative. But there are some alarming similarities between the storyline of the book and purported occurrences in Delia Owens’ own life that was already widely known before she became an author.

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Slate claims that there are little aspects of Delia’s life that appear in the book Where the Crawdads Sing, such as a cat named after a cook that her family once employed. However, the publication claims that the protagonist getting away with murder is what obviously raises the reddest flags.

Kya kills Chase in the book after he tried to rape her. The reader is supposed to side with the woman who is accused of the murder but gets away with it.

Laura Miller of Slate writes, “After all, isn’t Chase, like that anonymous poacher, a horrible man, who received his just punishments even though his killing technically breaches the law of the land?”


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