(The) family is an incredibly important aspect in Because of Winn-Dixie. Despite the fact that Opal is an only child, she finds companionship with her dog. However, what makes this particular movie different than most pop-culture films is that Opal’s family is not considered a “normal” nuclear family. Opal’s mother is not in the picture, which leaves her father “The Preacher” as the only guardian raising her.
In the academic journal titled, “Journal of Social Issues”, the article “Growing Up A Little Faster: The Experience of Growing Up in a Single Parent Household” states that “When parents separate, the children are generally required to assume new responsibilities and obligations.” (Weiss 98). This is certainly true for Opal. Her father entrusts her to take care of herself most of the time, as he is away from home or working most of the time. He sends her to do groceries for him and other tasks like this. “The mother’s absence inevitably resulted in the children having to take on more responsibility in looking after themselves and helping the father to run the house.” (Weiss 98) .
This academic article also discusses the idea that many children of single parents often are seemingly “forced” into growing up quicker than what the majority of children do. Opal is often peeved by the two minor characters, Dunlap and Stevie Dewberry. Even though these boys pick on her, she handles it better than how other kids her age would. Because of them, she met Gloria Dump, a hermit of a woman whom almost everyone (even some adults) were afraid of. Instead of running for her life like most kids so, she befriended the blind woman. As time passes, Opal is able to relate better to Gloria than any other person has been able to in an exceedingly long time. According to Weiss, this is not unusual for children of single parents. “This earlier maturity may display itself as an unusual ability to understand adults’ perspectives and to relate to adults, or a.s a sense of self-reliance more appropriate to an older child, or as unusual responsibleness.” (Weiss 98)