Because of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo

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Chapter 16 Summary

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Miss Franny Block’s great-grandfather Mr. Littmus W. Block was just a fourteen-year-old boy when he went to war. The firing on Fort Sumter had just occurred, and Littmus’s father, Artley W. Block, was already a soldier, so Littmus went to fight. He told his mother that he could not just sit by and watch the South get destroyed. Miss Franny says that men always want to fight and are lured by wars. Littmus lied about his age, but because he was a big boy the recruiters believed him and enlisted him as a soldier. Littmus left behind his mother and three sisters and went off to be a war hero, but he would soon learn the truth about the reality of war. Miss Franny says that war is “hell.” Amanda reminds Miss Franny that “hell” is a “cuss” word, and Miss Franny retorts that the word “war” should be a cuss word. Miss Franny points at both Amanda and Opal and tells them that neither of them can imagine the tragedies of war. During the war, Littmus was always hungry and covered with fleas and lice, and the weather of the seasons made him constantly uncomfortable—on top of all this, Littmus was shot at all the time.

Opal interrupts and asks if Littmus was killed, and Amanda rolls her eyes. Miss Franny reminds Opal that she would never have been born if Littmus had been killed. But Miss Franny does say that although he was not killed, Littmus left the war a changed man. When he left the war, he did not have a horse, so he walked from his post in Virginia all the way back to his home in Georgia. When he got there, his house was no longer standing because the Yankees burned it down. Amanda inquires about Littmus’s sisters, and Miss Franny says that all his sisters and his mother died from typhoid fever. His father, Artley, died during battle, so Littmus was an orphan when he got home. Opal and Amanda agree that the story of Littmus is a sad one. At this point, Winn-Dixie, who has been napping, begins to snore, and Opal tries to quiet him so she can hear the rest of the story. Opal wants to know how someone who has lost everything he loves manages to move on with his life and survive.

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