What are Opal's traits in "Because of Winn-Dixie"? Can you please sum it up for me

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reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

India Opal Buloni, known as Opal, is a ten-year-old girl who learns to find and appreciate love by the end of the book. First of all, she begins the story as a very lonely girl because she and her preacher father have moved to a new town, Naomi, Florida, where she doesn't know anyone. Complicating matters, Opal's mother has been gone since she was very young, and Opal is sad about not knowing her mother. She thinks her father might be responsible for her mother leaving them.

Upon finding her dog, Winn-Dixie, Opal's world soon starts to change. She makes friends with Miss Franny Brock, Gloria Dump, and Otis. Each friend teaches her something about life and helps her to grow up. Miss Franny is Opal's first friend who accepts Winn Dixie in the library and gives Opal her first sense of belonging in the town, which makes her confident. Opal learns not to judge people as a result of her friendship with Otis—before she met him, she thought if someone went to jail, he was bad. Otis teaches her otherwise. Gloria Dump teaches Opal to learn to see with her heart rather than her eyes. Opal becomes mature when she learns that lesson.

Most importantly, even though Opal is hopeful her mother will return and blames her father over her missing mother, she learns understanding. She discovers that making lists of ten important things about something doesn't help one to understand. Thus, her two lists about her mother and Winn-Dixie are not as important as loving what you have when you have it. In this way, Opal grows up and appreciates the love she and her father share. By the end of the story, she sees life differently because of Winn-Dixie.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Opal is an out-going and loving young lady.  She is not easily embarrassed and she has such an open air about her that she easily wins the confidence of others.  The variety of friends she gains around her in Naomi are proof of this.  From Ms. Franny, the librarian, to Otis, the animal-charming musician criminal, Opal demonstrates a heart and an understanding that draws people to her.

Opal is also determined.  She dogs Otis constantly (excuse the pun) about a job until he is forced to give in.  She dogs her father as well, demanding to know about her mother until he too gives in.  She's determined to remember those things as well:

"I wanted to know those ten things inside and out. That way, if my mama ever came back, I could recognize her, and I would be able to grab her and hold on to her tight and not let her get away from me again."

Her determination makes her resent her father, believing that he gave up too early on his wife.  In the end, she realizes that while determination is good, understanding when to let go is also good.

Finally, Opal is lonely.  She lives in a neighborhood of adults, has no siblings, is in a new town, is missing a mother, and is alienated from her father.  Winn-Dixie is so important because he helps her get past her loneliness, which allows her to gather new friends around her.