Because of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo

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When and why does Opal throw the party at Gloria Dump's house in Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie?

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In Chapter 19 of Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal learns Otis's greatest sorrow is that he was arrested when he hit a cop trying to prevent Otis from playing his guitar on the street and now can't play his guitar anywhere but in the pet store. Otis is a very lonely man who only wants to play for people. In Chapter 20, Opal tells Gloria Dump the story of Otis's arrest just before continuing to read aloud Gone with the Wind. She and Gloria start talking about people's sorrows and loneliness, and Gloria makes the following comment:

I believe, sometimes, that the whole world has an aching heart. (Ch. 19)

Opal begins reading and relays that "Scarlett was looking forward to going to a big barbecue." It's then that Opal gets the inspiration to throw a party in Gloria's yard to ease everyone's loneliness: her own, her father's, Otis's, Gloria's, Miss Fanny's, and even Sweetie Pie's. Beyond those people, Gloria makes Opal promise to invite two of her antagonists, Dunlap and Stevie Dewberry, and Miss Fanny suggests Opal also invite Amanda, Opal's other antagonist.

The party is held at night soon after Opal delivers all of the invitations by word of mouth. Opal and Gloria spend the whole afternoon making egg-salad sandwiches and punch and decorating Gloria's yard. The party helps develop the climax of the story because everyone arrives dressed in their best and behaves in their best company manners, even those who are antagonists. Even shy Otis arrives, though it takes some convincing to get him to come into the yard. The story reaches its climax when an unexpected thunderstorm strikes, moving the party inside. During the chaos, Winn-Dixie goes missing.

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