18th September 2010 What can we learn about Fitzgerald literary concerns from Winter Dreams? In this essay I am going to analyze the literary concerns of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Winter Dreams. F. Scott Fitzgerald short story Winter Dreams’ first appeared In the Metropolitan Magazine, December 1922. Winter Dreams’ tells the story of Dexter Green and the pursuit of his dreams as he aspires to be one of the ‘old money elite’. From his humble beginnings as a caddie at a golf club to becoming one of the richest men in New York City.
The first and foremost central theme to Winter Dreams’, and possibly Fitzgerald greatest literary concern, and concern in his own life, is the urge for self achievement. For Fitzgerald himself the desire for success was much more Important than the reality, this quotation Is taken from the documentary ‘American Masters’, It explains much about Fitzgerald and why he wrote Winter Dreams’. The protagonist Dexter Green of Winter Dreams’, may have been based upon Fitzgerald himself, both spend their lives dreaming of success and happiness, yet never achieve it due to hose very dreams, they could never live up to the greatness they imagined.
Fitzgerald dreamt of being ‘king of all the world’ as a boy and never truly grew out of these Ideas of grandeur, while Dexter fantasized of the idea of the upper class, the Ideal life and being ‘surrounded by an admiring crowd’. A key theme In Winter Dreams’ is the difference between social classes, or more specifically ‘new money versus ‘old money. Fitzgerald was always very interested in the difference between social classes especially ‘old and new money; his later novel ‘The Great Gatsby also features this theme. Fitzgerald was once quoted: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.
They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. ” In Winter Dreams’ Fitzgerald shows the difference between ‘new money and ‘old money through the protagonist Dexter Green, his Interactions with the rich, how he judges himself and others all indicate the differences Fitzgerald sees between the two. As a young caddie Dexter dreams of becoming equal to his superiors at the golf club, at the beginning of the story Dexter fantasized beating Mr..
T. A Hydride ‘in a marvelous match’ of golf and becoming his equal. When Dexter grows into a young successful man he plays his dream round of golf with Mr.. T. A Hydride, but finds him feels that despite being rich himself he still doesn’t fit in due to the fact he had to earn his money; he wasn’t born into money and thus doesn’t truly know what it is to be upper-class. Another good example of this is when Dexter is listening to a song hat played at his college prom; he had to listen to it from outside though as he ‘could not afford the luxury of proms’.
Fitzgerald may have used this memory to show us how he felt that the classes in his time seemed to be separate, almost segregated. One of the main themes of Winter Dreams’ is the idea of reality versus fantasy, they seem to be in constant flux with each other as both Dexter Green and Judy Jones search for meaning in their lives and in their own Winter Dreams’. Dexter is the victim of his so-called Winter Dreams’, adolescent fantasies he imagined p as a child to bring himself happiness, that sadly he is never able to fulfill.
As he searches for happiness in his life he unwisely focuses his attention and becomes infatuated with Judy Jones, believing her to be the ‘ideal woman’ and falsely falls in love with her. Judy is less than fulfilling for Dexter however, Judy and her displays of affection simply make Dexter even more obsessed with the idea of her. Dexter never sees Judy for how mean and using she is; instead he sees her as the ideal woman figure for his life and the embodiment of truly, perfect love.
Even when Judy completely reveals her self-serving nature when confessing that she refused to marry a man because he turned out to be ‘poor as a church mouse’, Dexter is still blinded by his idealistic view of Judy, and refuses to accept this, because it suggests the reality of who Judy is and would ruin his dreams. Judy Jones lives to be the centre of attention, due to her rich, spoilt and sheltered upbringing. Judy dreams of being wanted by everyone and in many ways gets this, being described as ‘ideal’ by men throughout the story.
Her dream, however can ever truly become a reality, to keep men interested in her she breaks off with them quickly to find new men to toy with, giving them enough attention to follow her blindly. Eventually men like Dexter settle down and she becomes Jealous, she can’t seem to understand not to be wanted by everyone, she often cries to others selfishly saying ‘I’m more beautiful than anyone else – why can’t I be happy?. The American dream, a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of prosperity and success, this is one of the key themes of Winter Dreams’.
For Dexter Green the American dream is what he strives for, coming from a modest upbringing Dexter works hard to achieve wealth and success and before ‘he was twenty-seven he owned the largest string of laundries’. Fitzgerald may have also created Winter Dreams’ to show the dark side of the American dream. For example as young caddy Dexter dreamed of success and wealth and the happiness they would bring. As a successful man Dexter is miserable in the pursuit of Judy Jones who he never acquires and finds the upper class golfers he used to respect to be a bit of a peppiness were in fact very fickle and far from the truth.
During Winter Dreams’ World War I breaks out, in which Dexter enrolled and ‘greeted the war with a certain amount of relief. Similar to ‘The Great Gatsby characters in Fitzgerald stories often seem to approach war, particularly World War I with a certain amount of unusual comfort. Both Nick, the protagonist in ‘The Great Gatsby and Dexter from Winter Dreams’ sign up during the ‘Great War’, neither one recounting any horrors from it and seeming to agree with it.
This may be Fitzgerald attitude towards war coming out through his books, or Fitzgerald may be showing the reader how people reacted to the war in America at the time, and how many young men signed up ignorant of the risks. In Winter Dreams’ it is notable that none of the characters seem to achieve their dreams, or even happiness in the end. Dexter never gets his ideal woman Judy, or feels accepted by the upper class he strives to be like. Judy fails to keep men interested in her, losing her famous good looks’ and is forced to settle down with a family and an unfaithful husband.