Literature Guide for Because of Winn-Dixie
Because of Winn-Dixie is a book about a girl named Indian Opal who finds a dog at a time when she is in need of love the most. Winn-Dixie is just the first in a long line of friends that Opal makes when she moves to Naomi Florida. Because of Winn-Dixie is a heart touching book that encompasses people from all walks of life and proves that friends can be made in the most unlikely places.
Because of Winn-Dixie, was a very well written book, with strong characters, believable situations, and a heartfelt message. Because of Winn-Dixie is an easy to read book and covers a wide array of subjects making it appealing to readers of all ages and backgrounds. Included in the list of topics it incorporates are friendship, love, devotion, single parent living, moving, alcoholism, and love for animals. It would be hard to read this book without finding at least one subject to relate to. Best of all, these subjects are represented realistically, making them believable, understandable, and easy to relate to.
Characterization is a big strength in the book. Each character brings a very different view on life experiences to the story. I think the range in age that DiCamillo represents in her characters is impressive. She manages to tie the young with the old, while showing that it is ok for different generations to entwine and that age is not an issue when it comes to making friends. Each character is realistic in their problems giving the reader a better appreciation for them. The characters are also lovable. Individually, they have characteristics that make them interesting and appealing to readers. For example, Otis has the ability to calm animals, Miss Franny tells wonderful stories, and Gloria always has great advice for Opal.
The fact that this book teaches so many life lessons is the book greatest strength. Although this book is written for children, it incorporates many adult topics. While some people might not agree, I think this really makes the book appropriate for the youth of today’s society. In contemporary times, children are not shielded from difficult and grown-up experiences. They are often confronted with difficult adult situations. DiCamillo does a wonderful job of expressing many deep and difficult topics in a relatively light manner.
Friendship is a theme that is carried from beginning to end. From the start, Opal shows what it is to be a good friend by taking care of Winn-Dixie when he needed a friend the most. DiCamillo shows how friendships develop in a realistic manor. The Dewberry boys’ relationship with Opal is a perfect example of how DiCamillo developed the idea of friendship throughout the book. At the beginning of the story, Opal and the boys did not get along at all, but as the story progressed, so did their relationship. Lessons of caring, determination, and giving someone a chance can all be gained from this one relationship in the book.
Friendship, however, is not the only life lesson taught in the story. Through her development of the relationship between Opal and her father, DiCamillo shows how important it is to not give up on the people we care about. She shows that relationships take understanding and forgiveness. There is also a theme of devotion in the book. One of the strongest and most powerful lines in the story is found on page 159 when Gloria Dump tells Opal “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.” This quote is the true definition of love and devotion, and teaches that sometimes it takes letting go to show how much we really care about something.
Identifying weaknesses in this book was a difficult task. There are so many great life lessons, experiences, and insights to be gained from reading this story. While some may respect the book for trying to tackle topics that are more adult and mature, some may say that these topics are inappropriate for the age group that the book is geared towards. Because it is written for a third or fourth grade level, topics of alcoholism, jail, religion, and bullying might be considered too adult by some people. Overall, the book was clean, had strong characters, and left readers with deeper understanding of a young girl’s love for her dog.
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Page Last Updated March 11, 2005