The main conflict in Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is Opal's abandonment by her mother. Opal and her father, who is a preacher, have moved to Naomi, Florida. It is in this small town that Opal learns to live with the loss of her mother with the help of her friends and the stray dog she finds, Winn Dixie.
In Chapter 11, a fierce thunderstorm blows in. Opal and her father discover that Winn Dixie is terrified of thunderstorms. The preacher and Opal try to calm the dog. But Winn Dixie won't be calmed. Opal's father explains to her that some people and dogs have pathological fears. These are fears that are very hard to overcome. When the storm comes, Winn Dixie can no longer smile because he is terrified and his fear takes over.
The fear of the thunderstorm relates to Opal's conflict in the book. Opal's fear is caused by her mother leaving when she was three and her sorrow over never knowing her mother. Opal must come to terms with this sense of loss. By the end of the story, Opal's father tells her that her mother will not be coming back, and Opal realizes just how much her dad loves her. Opal has overcome her feeling of abandonment because of her father's love, her friends, and importantly, because of Winn Dixie.