Because of Winn-Dixie
by Kate DiCamillo
Miss Franny Block
Miss Franny Block is a librarian. She received her library cottage as a birthday present from her rich daddy when she was a "little-miss-know-it-all" (7.10). She "wanted a little house full of nothing but books and I wanted to share them, too" (7.4).
But Miss Franny never married and her friends and family died over time, leaving her alone. The cottage that was meant to share her favorite stories now just stores them. Just like it stores her inside its walls. She's become a bit like Marian the Librarian, cut off from the rest of the town. Instead of collecting and creating new stories and memories, Miss Franny merely dusts off the shelves in her library and her head.
That's why her world totally changes with the arrival of Opal and Winn-Dixie. Sure, it seems to get off to a bad start, when Winn-Dixie scares the daylights out of her by bringing up her PTSD about a bear that came into the library forever ago. But thank goodness he does! Reminding Miss Franny of her fear also reminds her of the story behind it. And with story-lovin' Opal at her feet, she can finally crack open her mind and share.
Her most important story, though, is definitely the story of her great-grandfather, Littmus W. Block. He invented Littmus Lozenges with a unique flavor of sorrow and sweetness that we (and the preacher) like to call melancholy. Though this candy matters to the novel as a whole (see "Symbols" for more details), it's also important in Miss Franny's life.
The candies combine sweetness with sorrow, and Miss Franny has locked them up in her desk for years. Just like she's locked herself up in her library. There's no sweetness in that, not for anybody. But when she squeaks open those drawers and shares the Lozenges, she also pries open her locked little heart.
The more Miss Franny shares about herself, the more sweetness she finds in the world. So you could say that Opal brought living sweetness into the sorrow and loneliness of Miss Franny's life—just like the little candies.
With Opal in her life, Miss Franny's stories are no longer stored, but shared, like Miss Franny always wanted.
Since this has been such a musical analysis, let's end with a little ditty: "There were birds in the sky, but I never heard them singing, no I never heard them at all, 'til there was you." Yeah, kind of like that.
What's in it for Opal?
Meeting Miss Franny taught Opal a lot, like:
• the joy of having a friend
• how to survive when you lose everything
• war is hell
• how to protect Winn-Dixie (she watched how he protected Miss Franny during her "fits")
• stories to tell her mom someday—but in the meantime, to tell Gloria Dump
• who Scarlett O'Hara is.
What's in it for Miss Franny?
Here's a rundown of what Miss Franny got out of her friendship with Opal:
• a friend (or friends- by the end of the story, Miss Franny forms friendships with many more people)
• an outlet for her story collection—bringing her stories to life brought her back to life, too.
• a reminder to find the sweetness in life
• seventy-six trombones in a big parade! Just kidding. Wrong librarian.