Study Guide

Because of Winn-Dixie Love

By Kate DiCamillo

Love

It's hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor. (1.23)

Isn't that the truth? A sense of humor crosses all barriers and sure makes it easier to like other people (and animals).

He was kind of limping like something was wrong with one of his legs. And I have to admit, he stunk. Bad. He was an ugly dog, but already, I loved him with all my heart. (2.4)

Did Opal love Winn-Dixie so much because she needed him or because he needed her? And is there a difference?

I could see that Winn-Dixie was having a good effect on the preacher. He was making him poke his head out of his shell. (2.23)

Opal loves the preacher, but she keeps her distance because, well, the preacher keeps his distance. Winn-Dixie has no such boundaries. The "No Trespassing" sign on the preacher's turtle shell means nothing to that lovable dog, and even the preacher can't resist it.

"Number ten," he said with a long sigh, "number ten, is that your mama loved you. She loved you very much."

"But she left me," I told him. (4.18-19)

But if she loved Opal so much, what would cause her to leave? Or is the preacher wrong? Or just trying to make Opal feel better? Whew. No wonder Opal is confused.

Winn-Dixie's bald spots started growing fur, and the fur that he had to begin with started looking shiny and healthy; and he didn't limp anymore. And you could tell that he was proud of looking so good, proud of not looking like a stray. (8.1)

It's amazing what a little love can do to someone, animal or human. It's like a facelift for the soul—and the body. (Or coat.)

I held on to him and comforted him and whispered to him and rocked him, just the same way he tried to comfort Miss Franny when she had her fits. (15.3)

Winn-Dixie teaches Opal how to protect him by the way he protects Miss Franny. Everyone needs a little love sometimes, even the ones who do most of the loving.

She stared at me with her mouth open. "Okay," she said after a minute. "I mean, yes. Thank you. I would love to." (20.53)

Hey, Amanda: better close that mouth or you're going to be swallowing some flies. Well, seriously, it looks like someone has finally broken through her wall. She's worked hard to turn other people off so she can mourn alone, but this one little invitation pierces through her loneliness. Pretty soon, she's singing on Gloria's floor with the rest of them.

"There ain't no way you can hold on to something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it." (23.29)

You don't know what you've got until it's gone. If you love something, let it go. Yeah, we've heard this advice before. The problem is, Gloria makes it sound easy to let go of those you love, but it's actually pretty hard. Or is Gloria maybe telling Opal not to be afraid of loving someone for fear of losing them?

Gloria stopped and smiled over at Otis, and he smiled back. He looked all lit up from the inside. (25.22)

Gloria has a way of seeing into people's souls, despite her bad eyes. Check out the power she has here in Otis's life through one little smile. Talk about power—it's like flipping on a light switch.

I looked around the room at all the different faces, and I felt my heart swell up inside me with pure happiness. (25.45)

Opal-at-the-End and Opal-at-the-Beginning are two very different girls. This heart-full girl is almost a different person than the lonely little thing at the beginning—except, Opal only won all these new friends because of who she was.

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