“Winter Dreams” is one of the most prominent works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, which was published in “Metropolitan Magazine” in 1922 and in the collection “All The Sad Young Men” in 1926. This work is always compared with another Fitzgerald story “The Great Gatsby” as they both touch the topic of American dream and destructive nature of the American life. The story is considered as one of Fitzgerald’s finest statements on the illusory and deceptive beauty of the ideal American life.
“Winter Dreams” is a story about dreams and aspirations of the main hero Dexter, who was hardworking, confident young man from the middle class. Though Dexter has always dreamed of and lived in the pursuit of wealth and status, the ideal life of the upper class. He seems to deny his middle-class origin, and aspires to become a member of wealthy class. From the beginning of the story we find a boy who works at the golf club, where he meets rich people. He dreams of becoming a good skier, to become famous and get high position, so in that way to “exceed” all those clients of the club. Thus Dexter imagines a future life and happiness only through a high position and status.
It is important to note an episode which clearly shows Dexters experiences. Working at the yacht club, the boy meets a beautiful girl Judy Jones, who belonged to the upper class, and Dexter works under her father, Mortimer Jones. He likes the girl very much, but once he is assigned to caddy for her, though Dexter quits, as he doesn’t want to be one of her servants. He is to some extend ashamed of his origin and of lower status, and by his appearance and manners he attempts to impersonate a man of the higher class.
The next attempt of the hero to get closer to his dream was his admission to a prestigious and expensive university in the East, despite the fact that his father paid for another school. Though Dexter is not happy, as he lacks the money and he can’t afford the things that his classmates have. That is why after school the hero came back to Minnesota and started a laundry business that helped him to make a lot of money. In few years he has become successful businessman, well respected one, and one day he is invited to play golf at the club, where he used to work. It is very important for the hero, because when he was working in a club he was eager to become its member, a famous and respected wealthy man. At this point develops a conflict within the character, the ambivalence of Dexter’s relationship to a higher class: he is proud of his self-made status and has no respect for the men for whom luxury and wealth were a given.
The new status also brings Dexter new meeting with Judy Jones, with whom he has strange and complicated relationship: once they are together, but then they break up, Dexter and Judy struggle with contradictions between reality and fantasy. Nevertheless it is Judy Jones who is the second main dream of Dexter, as she represents to him the best in a woman. Frustration and failure in love has become fatal for the hero, and he can’t become happy despite his wealth. That is why Dexter leaves his business and his love, and goes to fight in the World War I.
The resolution of the conflict has become final part of the story, when Dexter lives in New York and is very successful. Though news about Judy again make him suffer, as he understands that his illusions and dreams of Judy are finally destroyed. He feels great frustration about his past and his lost youth, when he lived in dreams which never came true.
The story “Winter Dreams” primarily tells us about the dreams of the main character, who basically lives in his illusions and dreams. From early childhood Dexter’s life is characterized by his dreaming: the first very aim of his life is to achieve wealth and success, to have all the best of everything; and the second dream has become Judy Jones, whom he has been in love with through all his life. But in fact Dexter faces numerous contradictions between his dreams and reality, and finally frustration of that dreams becomes the biggest disappointment in life.
In “Winter Dreams” Fitzgerald has shown the theme of his time, as the problem of “American dream” and its failure was inherent to many Americans in the early 20th century. The desire for wealth and beautiful life, glitter and glamour attracted thousands of young people. Fitzgerald in his hero showed the essence of illusory American dream of wealth and status. Dexter with his dreams of success is embodiment of his generation, who saw unlimited opportunities in the new century, but had false dreams and aspirations.
Bruccoli Matthew J. The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A New Collection. Scribner, 1995