Because of Winn Dixie Themes

Instructor: Jaclyn Radtke

I am a second grade teacher. I have been teaching second grade for two years. I previously taught fifth grade. I work in an urban school district. I am also interesting in drama and dance, which is why I am currently an assistant director of our after school for the arts program and co-director/choreographer of our school productions. I have a bachelors and a masters degree in elementary education.

Do you think a story can have multiple themes? Absolutely. In the book, ''Because of Winn-Dixie'', there are many themes that shape the life of the main character, Opal, as you'll find out in this lesson.

What is a Theme?

A theme is the message in a story. This can be a lesson that an author wants the reader to take from a book, or it can just be a topic that a story revolves around.

Opal and Winn-Dixie reading
Opal and Winn-Dixie Reading

Common Themes in Because of Winn-Dixie


Have you ever moved to a new place? If so, was it hard to make a new friend? In Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal comes to a new town, knowing no one and not having a stable set of parents to encourage her to find friends and get involved with the kids in town. As her father, a preacher, is overwhelmed with his new job, his biggest concern is the church.

Although there are plenty of kids Opal's age in Naomi, FL, she lives in an adult trailer park and chooses instead to make friends with older people, like Franny Block, the librarian; Gloria Dump, and Otis. But while Opal has trouble making friends, Winn-Dixie doesn't.

Opal's discovery of Winn-Dixie, a dog, in a grocery store is what opens her up to the idea that friends come in all shapes and sizes. By the end of the story, Opal has friends who are boys and girls, humans and animals, young and old, and most importantly, who all have a unique story like her own that she can connect to and understand.


Do you know what it's like to feel alone? Opal and Winn-Dixie have a strong connection because they have both been abandoned. Opal's mom left when she was only a young child, and Winn-Dixie was left alone in the grocery store. Together, they become a team, but that is only due to their understanding of one another's past. They help to fill the void in one another's lives.

In describing these voids, Gloria, Opal's friend, tells us: 'There ain't no way you can hold onto something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it.' As much as Opal wants to hold on to her mother. She needs to love what she has and let go of what she doesn't have.

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