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Written by Shyla Minocha
India Opal Buloni
India Opal Buloni is the ten year old protagonist of the story. She lives with her father whom she refers to as Preacher in a small town. Her mother left the two of them when Opal was three, Opal still yearns for her mother after all these years. She eagerly grasps onto any knowledge about her mother which she can learn and never stops hoping that one day they will be reunited. Ths demonstrates her undying love and optimism. In their new town, a lonely Opal is keen to take in a stray dog whom she names Winn-Dixie. With Winn Dixie by her side, we see friendly Opal quickly form relationships all over town with different characters. Her innocence and pure honesty attract those around her. she has a kind generous heart and is easy to love. Opal is a hardworking and persistent young girl who does not shy away from responsibilities which is shown with the way she handles her new pet and takes on a job. She is respectful and mature for her age, hence, is able to connect well with people who are much older than her.
Winn-Dixie is the dog whom the story's protagonist takes in after a chance encounter at a grocery store. She names him after the grocery store. Even though he looks rough and large, he is a very gentle and friendly creature. Everyone whom he encounters is eventually if not instantly charmed by his kindness and heart of gold. Winn-Dixie helps Opal settle into her new home and make friends. Opal tells him, 'You are better at making friends than anybody I've ever known.' He is her constant companion and brings out the best in not only Opal but everyone whom he spends time with. He melts the loneliest of hearts with his eccentric and outgoing behaviour; he loves peanut butter, music, stories and smiles by bearing all of his teeth. Winn-Dixie has something in common with all the people he and Opal encounter - he appreciates Otis' music, MS. Franny’s stories, Gloria Dump's sandwiches. They adore him and he gives them love and comfort in return. Most importantly is his relationship with Opal in whom he has a kindred soul. They understand each other, comfort each other, he is a loyal and caring friend to her. With the anthropomorphizing, Winn-Dixie is given human characteristics, making him seem more real, like a human character.
Opal refers to her father as Preacher throughout the story - we never even hear his real name. This demonstrates how she and others perceive him, he is defined by his profession. Opal astutely compares her father to a turtle who keeps his head in his shell, thinking about things in there instead of sticking his head outside into the world. The Preacher is a man whose beloved wife left him with his daughter when Opal was but a toddler, and her never recovered from it. He suffers in silence and tries to forget his pain by focusing on his job, which makes him a good man and good preacher, but not the best father. Being so wrapped up in his pain, he alienates his daughter without even realizing it, which is why she thinks of him as a Preacher more than her father. It isn't till Winn-Dixie comes along that the preacher opens up and lets his shell fall away - he begins to smile more, opens up to Opal about her mother and realizes how much he loves his daughter and how grateful he is that his wife left Opal with him. It is because of Winn-Dixie that the Preacher opens up and finally sees his daughter.
Gloria Dump is an old woman who becomes one of Opal and Winn-Dixie's closest friends. She lives old house surrounded by large trees and overgrown vegetation which looks almost eerie, hence several of the town's children think it resembles a witch’s abode making her a witch. Opal discovers that the town witch is actually an elderly, farsighted lady with self-deprecating sense of humour and a kind heart. Gloria listens to all of Opal's stories and offers wise mature advice to help her adjust to new surroundings and understand the people she encounters with an adult's perspective. Her nuggets of wisdom have a deep impact on Opal and teach her important life lessons about acceptance, life and love. She teaches Opal that it’s okay to make mistakes because it is what you do afterwards that defines you. Gloria opens up about her ghosts - her past life and mistakes which haunt her. She has a soft spot for Winn-Dixie and the two of them bond over love for peanut butter. Do to her poor eyesight, Gloria judges people based on their hearts not appearance, and she sees good in Opal and Winn-Dixie.
Miss Franny Block
Miss Franny Block is the town librarian, who was gifted the little library by her father when she was a young little-miss-know-it-all who wanted nothing more than a room full of books. Years late that room of books has made Miss Franny an isolated woman who has not collected and created new stories and memories, rather hung onto and kept the old ones to herself. Her first encounter with Opal and Winn-Dixie is rather disastrous with her mistaking Winn-Dixie's large form to be a bear, which triggers her PTSD about a bear which had come into her library years ago. This story is the first of many stories which she recounts to Opal and Winn-Dixie who become regulars at her library and fast friends. Thanks to the two of them, Miss.Franny opens up her mind and an outlet for all her stories. The most important story she shares is about her great grandfather Littmus Block who invented candy with a unique flavour of sorrow and sweetness which introduces the concept of melancholy to Opal. When she opens up about the stories of herself and her family, Franny Block finally gets to share her stories the way she always intended to. Opal and Winn Dixie bring freshness and sweetness into her life and bring her out into the world away from the library where she had holed herself up.
Otis is the shy and quiet pet shop manager who hire Opal when she begs him for a job to earn a collar for Winn-Dixie. He teaches Opal a life lesson that people are not always what they seem. He keeps to himself and prefers the company of animals to people. He has social anxiety and deals with it by playing music, it is what makes him happy and brings him peace. Music is also what gives him a bad reputation, it is the reason he was thrown into jail and has a dark stigma attached to him. Opal and Winn-Dixie help Otis get over his fear of human interaction and overcome his anxiety by slowly integrating him into their world. With Opal's encouragement, Otis steps out of his comfort zone with the animals and find acceptance, belonging and gets over his loneliness.
Sweetie Pie Thomas
Shes a little girl who befriends Opal and Winn-Dixie. Sweetie Pie is outgoing, full of excitement and love. She is one of Opal's first new friends in town and brings a lonely Opal happiness. She has a big heart and is quick to love Winn-Dixie. Sweetie Pie is full of innocence and accepts everyone.
Dunalp and Stevie Dewberry are aged ten and nine, initially portrayed as rude bullies whom Opal dislikes. Opal later opens up to them and learns that they just wanted to be friends. They are immature, but harmless and truly friendly children.
Amanda is a town local who Opal always describes as having a pinched up face.Opal thinks that Amanda is stuck up and rude, and does not like her. Then she learns about a tragedy in Amanda's life - her younger brother Carson had died the year before, and Opal realizes that her pinched up face was a reflection of how she felt. Amanda is closed off and has a harsh exterior to hide her true feelings of pain and sadness. She is quick to accept Opal's friendship and begins to pull down her walls.
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Opal's friends didn't have to find Winn Dixie because he was never missing. He was at the house all along. While Opal's friends waited for her and her father to arrive, they decided to play some music. Before long, they heard a loud sneeze in the...