Because of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo
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What did Opal learn in Because of Winn-Dixie?

Opal learns not to judge people and that most people have unhappiness in their own lives. Knowing people's histories can make it easier to understand and befriend them. She learns that if you are kind, people will usually respond positively. Opal also learns to let go of her unhappiness about her mother. She has filled her heart with her love for Winn-Dixie and with relationships with new friends, as well as with a more open relationship with her father.

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In Because of Winn-Dixie, the protagonist is a young girl named Opal who moves to a new town with her father, her mother having left them before the story begins. Opal feels abandoned by her mother’s departure. Moreover, she has no friends in this new town. In short, she...

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In Because of Winn-Dixie, the protagonist is a young girl named Opal who moves to a new town with her father, her mother having left them before the story begins. Opal feels abandoned by her mother’s departure. Moreover, she has no friends in this new town. In short, she is unhappy.

Through the course of the book and through the interactions she has with people, usually thanks to her dog Winn-Dixie, she learns many things about people and about life, including that one should not judge people, and that most people have a story that can make them more relatable. Moreover, she also learns that if you are kind and open, people will usually respond positively. For instance, when Miss Franny is afraid of Winn-Dixie, Opal asks:

“Miss Franny?” I said. “Are you all right?”

“A bear,” she said.

“A bear?” I asked...

“Miss Franny Block,” I said, “that’s not a bear. That’s a dog. That’s my dog. Winn-Dixie.”

Miss Franny judges Winn-Dixie by his appearance, but when she learns that Opal is right about Winn-Dixie having a large heart, she befriends Opal and Winn-Dixie. Opal realizes that she and Miss Franny have more in common than she realized upon first seeing Miss Franny. She can relate to the librarian and thinks,

“She looked sad and old and wrinkled. It was the same way I felt sometimes, being friendless in a new town and not having a mama to comfort me. I sighed, too.”

Finally, Opal also learns to let go of her unhappiness and bitterness about her mother. When Opal believes that Winn-Dixie has run away, she is heartbroken and searches for him. Her friend Gloria tells her that she cannot make something stay if it wants to leave even if she loves it. Gloria is speaking about Winn-Dixie, but Opal understands this in reference to her mother too. At the end of the novel, she speaks to her absent mother, saying,

“I miss you, but my heart doesn’t feel empty anymore. It’s full all the way up.”

Opal has managed to fill her heart with relationships with new friends who form a part of her extended family, with Winn-Dixie, and with a different, hopefully more open relationship with her father.

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