The main character of Because of Winn-Dixie is India Opal Buloni, a ten-year-old girl living in a small town in Florida. Opal is the daughter of a Preacher at the Open Arms Baptist Church; her mother left her when Opal was a young age, and Opal, thus, spends a great deal of time trying to cope with this hole in her life. Opal describes herself as "an exception" in that she is a "good, quiet kid," two qualities which lead to her feeling like an outcast and a loner.
Although Opal initially has a rough time adjusting to life in her new home at the Friendly Corners Trailer Park, she finds a friend in the dirty dog she discovers at a Winne-Dixie grocery store, appropriately naming him for the location. With the help of Winn-Dixie, Opal eventually learns to accept the other residents of this town (like Amanda Wilkinson and Otis), finding kinship with them due to the one trait they have in common: they have all suffered a loss of some sort.
The main character of this book is a she. Her name is India Opal Buloni. She is 10 years old and has just moved to Naomi, Florida.
At the start of the book, Opal is sad and lonely. She has no friends in Naomi. She also misses her mother, who left the family when she was a great deal younger. She doesn't remember much about her mother, and that makes her sad.
As the story goes on, Opal learns how to meet people and to come out of her shell. She is helped to do that by Winn-Dixie. He helps her meet people and he also helps her start talking to her dad more. That allows her to find out more about her mom.