Chapter 23 Summary
After the rain starts, Gloria yells to Opal and tells her to save the sandwiches and punch from getting ruined by the rain. Sweetie Pie runs around the yard and tears the dog pictures off the trees and chairs. She yells that she has saved them all from being ruined. Opal grabs the tray of egg salad sandwiches, and her father grabs the bowl of punch; the two run into Gloria’s kitchen to store the items. Then Opal goes back outside and sees Amanda helping Miss Franny Block come into the house. Miss Franny’s high heels make her so unstable that it seems she would have tipped over without Amanda’s help. Following Amanda’s lead, Opal takes hold of Gloria’s arm to help her, but Gloria tells Opal that she is alright. Opal looks around the yard at the crepe paper streamers and the candles that have all been ruined by the rain. Opal then sees Otis, who is still in the yard being drenched by the rain as he looks down at the jar of pickles on the ground between his feet. Opal calls to Otis and tells him to come in from the rain. Inside the kitchen, Amanda and Miss Franny are laughing and shaking the water from their clothing. Everyone exclaims that the rain has just come out of nowhere.
At that moment, Gertrude the parrot squawks, “Dog,” and the thunder is really booming outside. Opal looks around the kitchen and worries because she does not see Winn-Dixie anywhere. Sweetie Pie tells Opal not to worry because she has rescued all the dog pictures from the yard. But Opal is not worried about the pictures—she is worried about Winn-Dixie. In her rush to save all the food from the rain, Opal has forgotten to protect Winn-Dixie from the thunder he fears. The preacher says that Winn-Dixie is probably just in the yard hiding from the thunderstorm, and he volunteers to go outside and have a look.
Gloria offers him a flashlight and an umbrella, but Opal does not want to wait for Gloria to get provisions, and she runs out of the kitchen into the yard. She looks everywhere, but Opal cannot find her dog. She blames herself and cries out of guilt. In the middle of the chaos, Dunlap and Stevie arrive, and Opal says she does not care that her guests are now present. Gloria scolds Opal. Dunlap offers to help Opal find Winn-Dixie, but she declines his help. Gloria reminds Opal that a person cannot hold on to something that wants to go, and she wishes Opal luck in her search. The preacher and Opal take to the street to find Winn-Dixie.