Because of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo

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How are Opal and Winn-Dixie alike in Because of Winn-Dixie?

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Opal and Winn-Dixie are both lonely and need someone to whom they can give their love and friendship. By befriending each other, each makes the other's life better.

Opal identifies with Winn-Dixie because she feels abandoned by her mother. Her mother left Opal and her father; that's one of the reasons why they moved to Florida. The move also means that Opal has no friends to share her burdens with. She feels alone and is also isolated from her father because she blames him for her mother leaving.

Winn-Dixie was also abandoned. He's a stray dog with no one to care for him. He's alone in the world. Opal takes him in and then the two aren't alone anymore. Winn-Dixie becomes a part of her family and helps her heal her relationship with her father.

Opal feels out of place; the first time she sees Winn-Dixie, he's also out of place. He's an intruder in the grocery store where she's gone to get a few items. She decides to keep him and give him a place where he can belong. With his support, she learns to make her own place in Florida, too. For example, Winn-Dixie is the deciding factor that helps Opal get a job in the pet store.

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Opal and Winn-Dixie are alike because they are both sort of "ugly ducklings" who feel like they have been abandoned and need someone to care about them.

When Opal meets Winn-Dixie, she is new in town.  She and her dad have just moved to Naomi, Florida.  She and her dad have been abandoned by her mom and she clearly feels very alone and vulnerable because of that.  Winn-Dixie is (allowing for the fact that he's a dog) just the same way.  He is a stray who has gotten himself into trouble in the store.  Opal, of course, takes him home with her.

As the book goes on, we see how the two of them are similar.  To see this, look at the end of Chapter 4 and the very start of Chapter 5.  We see the author juxtapose the emotions of the two characters very nicely.  Chapter 4 ends with Opal thinking about her mother and how, if her mother ever came back, she would

grab her and hold on to her tight and not let her get away from me again.

The very next line, the first of Chapter 5 is

Winn-Dixie couldn't stand to be left alone; we found that out real quick.

Just in those two lines, the similarity between these two is made clear.  They both have been abandoned and neither of them wants to be left alone if they can help it.

It is because they are so similar and need each other so much that they come to be so important to one another as the book goes on.

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