What is the conflict in Because of Winn-Dixie?
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...
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What is the conflict in Because of Winn Dixie?
By Kathy Herrin, Ed.S
There is both external and internal conflict in Kate DiCamillo’s award winning novel, Because of Winn Dixie. This conflict leads the reader on a journey experiencing disappointment filled with broken hearts to taking chances, love, loyalty, and genuine devotion.
Opal Buloni, the main character, begins the story as a lonely young girl who has been abandoned by her mother. She lives solely with her father whom she refers to as the preacher. They live in an all adult trailer park with a “zero pet” policy. To further complicate her life, Opal doesn’t have friends, but she wants so much to feel like any other girl her age.
Opal’s father, the preacher, is known to delve into his work with his church, however, he has become a master of relational avoidance behaviors with his daughter. He is unaware of the heartbreak Opal is experiencing as she just continues to go through the motions of life motherless. In fact, when Opal first talks to her father about keeping Winn Dixie, he emphatically says no. At one point in the story, he is faced with having the pound come to get Winn Dixie, but he couldn’t go through with it after witnessing the devastation of his daughter losing her only friend.
Opal's father loves his daughter, but he handles his own heartbreak by focusing all of his time on his church responsibilities, but he falls short in his role as a single dad. The internal conflict he faces is a direct result of his inability to share anything with Opal about her mother. The pain is just too deep for him, and he finds it extremely hard to discuss. He stuggles through life in an attempt to forget his own pain and loss by focusing strictly on his job. Opal feels her father depicts the characteristics of a turtle. She says that her father just hides inside his shell thinking about things he won’t express into words. He never sticks his head out into the world, so to speak, to see what is actually happening with her or with anything that ca
uses conflict or change. .
Having been abandoned by her mother without any explanation at a very young age, Opal’s is crippled with heartache and confusion. As a young girl, she struggles with unanswered questions about her mother’s disappearance in an attempt to make sense of her own life as well as the life she lives with her father. She feels a tremendous void in her life because she lacks the nurturing, emotional support and guidance that a young girl desperately needs from her mother. In many ways, she blames herself for her mother leaving because her father will not discuss anything with her regarding the situation.However, as the story unfolds, her father finally tells Opal 10 things about her mother emphasizing the reality that none of the reasons that her mother left were Opal’s fault. Opal doesn’t understand that her father is tormented day after day blaming himself, but that isn’t revealed until later in the story. The scene in the book when Opal and her father are looking for the “supposedly lost” Winn Dixie in the pouring down rain is a turning point toward the plot’s conflict resolution.v Opal confronts her father about her mother leaving when she realizes that he is giving up looking for her beloved dog. She associates the “giving up” with how little her father must have tried to keep her mother from leaving.
The title, Because of Winn Dixie, is so perfect for this novel because it leads the reader through a cause and effect type of text structure right from the reading of the title. Because of scruffy looking, pathologically fear filled, faults and all…Winn Dixie appears in the Winn Dixie grocery store ultimately needing the love of Opal just as much as she was going to need him for both of their lives to experience change. The encounter between the two of them becomes the springboard to the best thing that could have ever happened to Opal Buloni and so many of the other characters.
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is the perfect novel illustrating how man’s best friend, a dog, can open the doors to the heart and soul that one could never anticipate or imagine. In this story’s little town, that special love is spread all over an entire community of people who are experiencing their own struggles in life. The conflict in this story is resolved in a way that is surprising to all of the characters. Although Opal’s mother does not return, Opal’s heart is full of love and joy in the end because of Winn Dixie. All of the characters that Opal and Winn Dixie have met together now know each other, attend a party together, and their lives are richer because of their new friendships. It is all because of an amazing little girl named Opal, and her best friend in the world, a precious little dog named Winn Dixie.