About the Book

Book Protagonist: Opal Buloni
Publication Date: 2000
Genre: Children, Teen and Young Adult

Character List

Because of Winn-Dixie

By Kate DiCamillo

Characters in ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’ are simple yet unique enough to portray their roles. Interestingly, some characters appear mischievous and precarious, but in book reality are just as nice as any normal being - and readers get to see this first-hand through the eyes of the friendly and lovable Opal.

The characters in ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’ are typically small-time locals who want to be happy, feel loved, and just get by in life. A handful of characters are elderly, a few are in their midlife, and the rest are children and young persons. Starting with our protagonist Opal, Let’s take a dive into the characters in Kate DiCamillo’s ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’.

Opal Buloni

Opal is the beloved protagonist in Kate DiCamillo’s ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’, and she narrates her story as an 11-year-old recalling back to last summer when she was 10 years old, sad, and lonely. Opal and her father, the preacher, have just recently moved to Florida making it hard for her to find a friend.

Since her Mama (her mother) left when she was only three years old, her father hasn’t quite been the same – as he often either gets himself buried in work or is found grieving over his estranged wife. For this reason, he doesn’t give Opal the care and attention that she needs – hence Opal’s angst and sadness.

The story changes for Opal one day as she finds Winn-Dixie, an unkempt dog and about the friendliest animal alive, lost at a supermarket. Through adopting Winn-Dixie, Opal learns the first things about friendship and human relations and goes on to make a lot of friends – even those she initially thought were her enemies. She learns, through Winn-Dixie, to move on with life and make the most out of what’s given to her.


Winn-Dixie is a shabby little stray dog found by Opal at the supermarket galavanting wildly in the corners, lost. Homeless and with no clear destination, Winn-Dixie was going to be caught and taken to the pounds but when Opal shows up he seems to calm down on seeing her.

Opal feels a connection with Winn-Dixie so she adopts him and convinces the preacher to accept him. Winn-Dixie is two major qualities; he is able to make friends and is a good listener. He helps Opal get over her lonely days by being a great companion, and forces her to make new friends she didn’t initially think possible. In the end, Opal credits Winn-Dixie for turning her snow, boring life into an interesting and lovely one.


Otis owns the Gertrude pet store to which Opal works. He is a very exceptional lover of music and quite skillful with guitars. However, when Opal finds he’s been jailed in the past, she becomes wary of working or associating with him. She later considers him a good friend after hearing his side of the story and even invited him to a party that she throws at Gloria Dump’s house.

Miss Franny Block

She is an aged woman who works at the library. She becomes Opal’s very first friend thanks to the workings of Winn-Dixie. Miss Franny is quite experienced and has so many stories to tell but feels just as lonely as Opal because she has no one to talk to. Once Opal understands this – and assured her that Winn-Dixie isn’t the same ferocious bear that that almost took her life years ago – they become friends.

The Preacher

The preacher is Opal’s father who is so-called because he does the work of a Christian minister and pastor. In fact, moving to Florida with his daughter Opal is inspired by the fact that he is to take charge as lead minister for the Arms Baptist Church over at Naomi.

The preacher loves his daughter but doesn’t find the chance or time to fully express it. And he also thinks too much about his estranged wife, according to Opal. However, at the book’s climax, when the tension of losing Winn-Dixie is hot, the preacher finds the moment to completely open up about his love for Opal – and that mama is never coming back home.

Gloria Dump

Another advanced lady who is partially blind and – from the outside – is perceived as kind of weird. The kids in the block, especially the two brothers Stevie and Dunlap, think of her as a witch and gladly teases Opal that her dog is going to be eaten When Winn-Dixie leaps a gate into Gloria Dump’s property.

But Gloria acts the opposite and feeds Winn-Dixie some peanut butter and offers Opal herself when she enters the property. Again, Winn-Dixie’s charm helps opal close down another good friend who would go on to teach her some important life lessons, such as how to not be judgmental of people and their past.

Amanda Wilkinson

She is a kid who lives in Opal’s neighborhood. Amanda is described by Opal as a difficult and mean girl who liked to find fault in situations. Just like Opal, Amanda frequents the library to get books and return them, but Opal hasn’t convinced her manner towards the elderly Miss Franny Block is good enough. Later Opal is told she had lost her brother last summer, so she understands Amanda is putting up the attitude due to grief.

Littmus Block

This man is Miss Franny Block’s great grandfather who fought in the civil war. During the time he was a young adult he relished fighting in wars but soon hated wars after losing the majority of his family members in the American civil war of which he fought in.

Littmus grew sad and depressed and as a result, invented the Littmus Lozenge candy which is sweet but has an underlying sadness ingredient that makes anyone who eats it recall the pains of their past.

Dunlap and Stevie Dewberry

Dunlap and Stevie are two mean brothers in Opal’s neighborhood and they oftentimes are the bane of Opal’s existence – as they would taunt her every day on her way home from Gertrude’s. Later, Opal converts them into friends after Gloria convinces her the boys aren’t as bad and mischievous as they appear.


Mama is the mother of Opal who leaves when Opal was only three years old. Mama is talked about very much in the whole of ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’. Readers never get to physically see mama but the preacher tells Opal ten things about mama just to keep her spirit going. From there we learn that a mama is a lovely person, who loves to plant and watch things grow up. Sadly also, mama hated being the wife of a preacher and is an alcoholic.

Sweetie Pie Thomas

She’s a cute five-year-old and one of Opal’s first friendly encounters. She is very homely and invites Opal to her forthcoming birthday party. However, despite Sweetie Pie Thomas’s age, by eating the sad candy (Littmus Lozenge), she is revealed to also be saddened like the rest of the characters for not owning a dog as cute and lovely as Winn-Dixie.


Why does Opal name the stray dog Winn-Dixie?

Opal names the stray dog Winn-Dixie because she finds the dog lost at the Winn-Dixie supermarket.

Who are the major characters in Kate DiCamillo’s ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’?

Opal, the preacher, and Winn-Dixie are three of the main characters in ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’, however, other fundamental characters include Gloria Dump, Otis, Mama, and Miss Franny Block.

Does Opal ever get to see Mama in ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’?

Opal doesn’t get to see her mother mama again after she leaves when open turns three years old. She later realizes this at the end of the book.

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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