Because of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo

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How did Opal show she wanted to be friends with Amanda in Because of Winn-Dixie?

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Though Amanda Wilkinson is a minor character in Because of Winn-Dixie, her relationship with Opal illustrates one of the story’s most prominent themes—that oftentimes, you need to look beneath the surface to truly understand another person. The reader is first introduced to Amanda in chapter 5, with Opal describing her face as “always pinched up like she was smelling something real bad.” Opal continues to describe Amanda as “pinch-faced,” and Amanda’s actions do nothing to change Opal’s negative attitude toward her. Amanda frequently brags about her skills as an “advanced reader,” she makes snide remarks about whether or not dogs should be allowed in the library, and she treats those around her very dismissively.

As it turns out, Amanda’s unpleasant demeanor masks the pain and sorrow she feels over losing her little brother, Carson, in a drowning accident. Opal extends an offer of friendship to Amanda by inviting her to the party at Gloria Dump’s house, even though she assumes Amanda will not want to attend. When Amanda arrives at the party, Opal sees a different side to Amanda. She is happy, polite, and helpful, and Opal wants to tell Amanda that she “understood about losing people.” She settles for simply being nice to her. Because the party is comprised of the people in Opal’s community that she most cares for, Opal’s invitation shows Amanda that loneliness and pain do not have to isolate people.

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