About the Book

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

Historical Context

Because of Winn-Dixie

By Kate DiCamillo

‘Because of Winn-Dixie’ has the American Civil War as the major historical context underpinning how characters and events play out in the book.

Set in Florida, one of the seven dissenting states during the civil war, ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’ embodies the predicaments and aftermath of such tumultuous events, and although most of the living characters are not born during this period Miss Franny Boock’s great grandfather felt the whole impact leading to him setting up a candy industry that is symbolic to the sad taste of civil war.

Florida’s Involvement in the Civil War

Florida had a huge impact on the event of the American civil war and was one of the main sites where at least two important battles were fought. Despite being a state with a comparatively smaller population – with nearly half of them black and slaves, the territory was motivated by two things, their interest in state’s rights and slavery.

A Brief Background

Before Florida became a state, it was first a US territory. As this happened, travelers and immigrants began flooding the place and setting up themselves and populating it with their families and relatives. By the 1800s, the place had become dense with people and a lot of activities. There were nearly 150, 000 inhabitants – of which about 65, 000 were black African Americans and mostly slaves.

The territory had grown big enough in terms of human capital and other resources and soon became a state under the United States confederacy – with its major economic resources dependent on planting crops and animal rearing, mostly cattle.

The Sunshine State

Slavery proliferated throughout early Florida and the state was even termed a slave state. Despite this happening, the lot didn’t support the slave trade and soon people started working out their freedom – some through outright buying of it, others through mercy granted by their masters.

Like Florida, northern states also grew tired of the slave culture and soon they began banning the practice in no time the northern was completely rid of it. Unlike the north which hated the practice, the southern states wanted it and even withdraw support from Abraham Lincoln because he was determined to abolish slavery for the south as well.

The Confederate States

In 1860, when Abraham Lincoln emerged as president, South Carolina withdraw from the United States and declared itself independent. By the next year, Florida followed suit – and in a couple of months, there were already six withdrawn states now forming a new government they termed the confederate states.

Florida During the War

The civil war started in April 1861 – due to a longstanding disagreement between the north and south. Florida fought with the confederate states as an attack was launched on Fort Sumter.

Although most of the sites for serious battles took place outside Florida, the state had a huge involvement in the war as it aided in food and other material supplies for the confederate, even though this was later hindered by the union barring its major ports – including those at Jacksonville and Pensacola.

The war which lasted for over four years was considered one of the most devastating wars the United States had ever involved in, and for Florida, it lost at least five thousand soldiers – with casualties spreading across nearly every Floridian family. The consequences of the war are carried into Kate DiCamillo’s book ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’, and the reader sees how this plays out in the life of the characters, and the direction of the plot.


Is Kate DiCamillo’s ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’ based on a true-life account?

Because of Winn-Dixie’ is a total fiction written by Kate DiCamillo inspired by her desire to want a dog, and the feeling of homesickness.

How does the American civil war impact Kate DiCamillo’s ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’?

The American civil war had a huge impact on the turn of events in Kate DiCamillo’s ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’, and this is evident in the poor state and dilapidation of Naomi, Florida, the setting of the book.

In what capacity did Florida contribute to the civil war?

Florida contributed greatly to the event of the civil war mostly in the aspect of food and other material supplies to the confederate states alongside which it fought. The state also lost human resources and personnel as more than five thousand lives were lost by the end of the war.

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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