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Littmus Lozenges in Because of Winn-Dixie

Instructor: Elizabeth Hance

Elizabeth has taught elementary and middle school special education, and has a master's degree in reading education.

Littmus Lozenges are a unique candy--and an important symbol in the novel 'Because of Winn-Dixie' by Kate DiCamillo. Learn about their role in the story, the meaning they carry, and some of the most important quotes about the flavorful treat.

What is a Littmus Lozenge?

When India Opal first meets Miss Franny Block, she learns that Miss Block had a wealthy father who wanted to give his daughter whatever she wanted. For example, the library was built because Miss Block asked for a library for her birthday!

Littmus Lozenges are a sweet and hard candy
Litmus Lozengey

However, it is not until later in the story that Miss Franny Block reveals how her father made his money. She tells Amanda Wilkinson and India Opal the story of the Littmus Lozenge and how it came to be. During the Civil War, her great-grandfather, Littmus W. Block, signed up to fight (even though he was only 14!). When the war was over, he returned home to find out that his home had been burned to the ground and his family had all died.

Littmus started walking, and eventually walked all the way to Florida. After experiencing such sorrow in his life, he decided he wanted to make something sweet. He invented a candy that he named the Littmus Lozenge, a special hard candy with a touch of sadness.

Meaning for Characters

When people taste a Littmus Lozenge, they all seem to notice the flavor of root beer and strawberry. However, there is another special flavor in the candy that is often hard to name: sorrow. Each person that eats a lozenge thinks of something different. In Because of Winn-Dixie, the candy helps the reader learn more about the sadness that each person has experienced.

When India Opal meets Amanda Wilkinson, she describes her as always having a pinched-up face. But after Amanda tries a lozenge, she tells Miss Franny that it makes her miss Carson. Later, Opal learns that Amanda does have sorrow in her life: her little brother, Carson, drowned last year.

For Gloria Dump, who lives alone, the lozenge tastes like people leaving. To the preacher, it tastes like melancholy and makes him think of Opal's mother. When Otis tries one, he begins to cry, and shares that it reminds him of jail. In this way, as each character tries a candy, it helps unwrap a different layer of their lives for Opal.

Important Quotes

The Littmus Lozenge is an important part of Because of Winn-Dixie because it helps reveal important details of each character's life. As they share their sadness with Opal, she learns about them and about her own sadness. Many of the most touching parts of the story happen over a shared lozenge.

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