Because of Winn Dixie Summary & Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 33-page guide for “Because of Winn Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 26 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Friends and Family and Loneliness and Loss.
Because of Winn-Dixie is a middle-grade novel by Kate DiCamillo published in 2000 by Candlewick Books. It follows main character Opal as she learns to love her new home in Naomi, Florida with the help of a stray dog named Winn-Dixie. Steeped in the traditions of southern literature, the book won a Newbury Honor and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award, among other awards.
Because of Winn-Dixie opens with Opal adopting Winn-Dixie, the dog that will shape the rest of the book. Opal goes to the Winn-Dixie grocery store for some groceries, and discovers a dog running through the aisles. The manager threatens to call the pound, and Opal feels bad for the dog—she claims him, names him after the grocery store, and takes him home to the trailer park where she lives with her father, whom she calls the preacher.
Opal is struggling with life in the trailer park. Opal’s mother left when she was a baby, and the preacher rarely talks about her. Opal had to leave her friends behind when they left their old town of Whately, and now she is especially lonely. Early in the novel, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her mother, and Opal thinks of her mother often throughout the book, clinging to these memories. The preacher also tells Opal that her mother left because she could not stop drinking, and it was causing problems in their marriage.
Opal is lonely at first, but soon she begins to make some friends. She befriends Miss Franny Block, the librarian, after Miss Franny mistakes Winn-Dixie for a bear she met many decades before. Opal also befriends Gloria Dump, a blind older woman who feeds Winn-Dixie peanut butter, and Otis, a musician who works at Gertrude’s Pets. Opal gets a job sweeping he floors at the pet store to pay for a collar and leash for Winn-Dixie.
As the novel progresses, Opal learns a lot about her own pain, and the pain of others. She becomes more empathetic for the children her own age in Naomi, especially Amanda Wilkinson, whose younger brother drowned the year before. Opal becomes forgiving of her mother’s drinking when she discovers Gloria Dump’s mistake tree, full of whiskey bottles she emptied before getting sober.
At the end of the novel, Opal throws a party to celebrate her new friends and help everyone feel happy. Winn-Dixie gets lost during a surprise thunderstorm at the party, but Otis saves the day when his beautiful music coaxes Winn-Dixie out of his hiding spot. After the storm, Opal visits the mistake tree to talk to her mother, saying that she is happy with the preacher, and that she will not miss her mother so much anymore.