Chapter 4 Summary

Opal, her father, and Winn-Dixie settle on the couch, and the preacher proceeds to tell Opal ten things about her mother. The first is that Opal’s mother could make anyone laugh. Second, she had red hair and freckles. Opal asks whether her own red hair and freckles are like her mother’s, and her father says they are. Third, Opal’s mother liked to plant things; the preacher jokes that Opal’s mother could plant a tire in the ground and grow a car. At this, Winn-Dixie chews on his paw, and Opal taps him to make him stop. Fourth, Opal’s mother was a fast runner, and one could not let her get a head start unless he surely wanted to be the loser in the race. Opal is also a fast runner. Back in Watley, she beat a boy named Liam Fullerton in a race, but because he was a sore loser, he claimed that boys and girls should not race each other. Fifth, Opal’s mother was a really bad cook who could not boil water or even open a can of beans. She also did not know what to do with meat. When the preacher gets to six, he rubs his nose and looks up at the ceiling, and then he tells Opal that her mother loved stories and that she could listen to stories all day, especially ones that made her laugh. Seventh, Opal’s mother loved looking at the constellations in the night sky; she never tired of looking at them.

The preacher begins offering more serious details about Opal’s mother. He tells Opal that, eighth, her mother hated being a preacher’s wife because she felt like the ladies at church criticized her all the time. The ladies judged her hair and her singing. Ninth, Opal’s mother loved to drink, which made her and the preacher fight often. The preacher lets out a long sigh and tells Opal that, ten, her mother loved her very much. Both Opal and the preacher acknowledge that although she loved Opal, her mother still packed her bags and left them.

Opal then goes to her bedroom along with Winn-Dixie and writes down all ten things so she will never forget them. Opal reads the list over and over to Winn-Dixie so she can memorize all ten things. She wants to make sure that if her mother ever returns, she will be able to tell her mother all these things so her mother will not leave again.