Study Guide

Because of Winn-Dixie Communication

By Kate DiCamillo


Winn-Dixie looked up at me while I was telling him everything, and I swear he understood. (2.5)

We see over and over in Because of Winn-Dixie that there's something glorious about someone who listens and cares. Try this: next time you're out with your friends, how about putting down your phones and actually listening to each other?

Winn-Dixie looked straight at me when I said that to him, like he was feeling relieved to finally have somebody understand his situation. (3.3)

Was Winn-Dixie relieved, or was Opal relieved to finally have someone understand her situation? Hm, sounds like she might be projecting a little bit.

They wouldn't ride with me; they just rode behind me and whispered things that I couldn't hear. (9.2)

Ugh. As though it's not hard enough to be in a new place with no friends, and then to have kids whispering things behind her back (literally)? Double ugh. We're sure glad things get better for her.

I could feel her listening with her whole heart, and it felt good. (10.3)

Okay, gross mental image aside, it's interesting that Opal says Gloria was listening with her whole heart, not both her ears. What does that mean? What is the difference between listening with your ears and listening with your heart?

I swear, it about wore me out yelling at Dunlap and Stevie Dewberry every day; by the time I got to Gloria Dump's yard, I felt like a soldier who had been fighting a hard battle. (13.10)

While Opal is a sweet kid who wants to help others, she definitely has some sass. She's not going to let those stupid boys make fun of her without a fight. She and Scout Finch would so be BFFs. But here's the thing. She spends every day serving all her new friends, but what tires her out most are the few minutes she spends yelling at the Dewberrys. There may be a lesson in there somewhere.

I was just getting ready to stick my tongue out at them; but then I thought about what Miss Franny said, about war being hell, and I thought about what Gloria Dump said, about not judging them too hard. And so I just waved instead. (17.36)

Opal decides to listen to the wisdom of her friends before she responds to the boys. As difficult as it is to smother her urge to attack them with words or fists (or at least a well-aimed spitball), she decides to turn the tables. And wave. WHAT?! And yet, it works.

"Other people's tragedies should not be the subject of idle conversation." (18.54)

Pretty much anyone has heard or read some sort of celebrity breakup story or watched a politician's funeral on TV. So is the preacher's statement true or false? The preacher didn't tell Opal about Carson's death until Opal specifically asked. But by not telling her, Opal couldn't understand Amanda. So, is it gossip to tell about others' tragedies? Should we just keep tragic info about others to ourselves? Or not?

"But I don't have to talk to people, right?"

"No sir," I said. "You don't. But bring your guitar. Maybe you could play us some music."

Otis is an odd duck. He craves friends and social interaction, and yet he's terrified of it. Understandably—the last time he had serious human interaction he got tossed in the slammer. Thankfully, our girl Opal figures this out and sees that Otis is really communicating with his guitar. He's safe behind the strings. And because Opal is young and innocent and kind (and knows how to talk to wild animals), Otis trusts her.

I was surprised at how glad I was to see Amanda. And I wanted to tell her I knew about Carson. I wanted to tell her I understood about losing people, but I didn't say anything. I was just extra nice. (21.15)

Communication without words. It's real. And Amanda needs it. She probably would have burst into waterworks and run off if Opal had said the things she wanted to, so good for her. She gets serious maturity points for knowing when to keep her mouth shut.

I talked to him real soft and gentle and low, like he was a wild animal that I was trying to get to take food out of my hand.

He took one tiny step forward. (21.24-25)

Opal deserves gold stars for communicating. She gets Otis. That's pretty awesome, given that most ten-year-olds are more interested in getting to ride shotgun than in befriending the town weirdo. She knows Otis needs this party, and she goes out of her way to make sure he gets there. Props to her.

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