The Parallels Between Dexter’s Dream and the Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Although Dexter’s dream parallels to that of the American Dream, Fitzgerald presents this idea of idealism in a negative sense, saying that in reality achieving this dream is impossible. The American Dream can be defined simply as the American ideal of living a happy and successful life. However each person has their own idealistic perception of this dream. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams” obtaining Judy Jones allows for Dexter Green to achieve his dream. Fitzgerald portrays this situation so often because of not only the time period and setting of the story, but also that of the author’s own life and personal experiences.
The Origin of Dexter’s dream traces back as far as his childhood. It all started when Dexter, age 14, who worked as a caddy at the Sherry Island Golf Club met the object of his affection, young Miss. Judy Jones. This dream began on the day that young Dexter quit his caddy job and “The little girl who had done this was eleven-beautifully ugly as little girl are apt to be who are destined after a few years to be inexpressibly lovely and bring no end of misery to a great number of men.” (Fitzgerald 588) Judy Jones, a rich little girl who grew up around material things, will only live in this high class kind of lifestyle and Dexter knows that a poor caddy cannot win her over. This situation presents itself in Fitzgerald’s own life. While stationed a army camp near Montgomery, Fitzgerald fell in love with “eighteen-year-old Zelda Sayre, the youngest daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court Judge” (A Brief Life of Fitzgerald). Fitzgerald soon asks for Zelda’s hand in marriage however “Unwilling to wait while Fitzgerald succeeded in the advertisement business and unwilling to live on this small salary, Zelda broke their engagement” (A Brief Life of Fitzgerald). This event causes Dexter’s dream to begin its growth and although this dream began in his childhood it continues to grow throughout his life.
Throughout the middle of this short story, Dexter’s dream grows substantially through several meetings with the much older and more mature Judy Jones, several years after his job as a caddy. Since that first job, he has done many wonderful things with his life most notably he started a chain of laundries that made him famous with the higher social class of that time and most importantly extremely wealthy. At this point in time Dexter Green meets Judy again, first at the golf course and again that night on the lake. This meeting at the lake presents itself as the most important beginning factor to the growth of Dexter’s dream. During this encounter Judy invites Dexter to dinner with her the next night and “his heart turned over like the flywheel of the boat, and, for the second time, her casual whim gave a new direction to his life.” (Fitzgerald 592) After this crucial meeting, Dexter and Judy continue seeing and courting each other “with varying shades of intensity on such a note right up to the time of denouement” (Fitzgerald 594) Again, this situation also parallels with the life of Fitzgerald. Like Dexter, Fitzgerald also finds himself as a wealthy man after publishing his book This Side of Paradise, causing Fitzgerald to become famous almost over night. A week later he married Zelda and the problems began.
In the end Dexter’s life becomes reality and through the loss of his idealistic dream he realizes that he could never achieve his American Dream. He losses this dream when he meets Devlin who tells him about Judy’s fate. Dexter learns from Devlin that Judy Jones married an abusive husband, spends her time taking care of her children, and most importantly lost her beauty. At this Dexter knows “the Dream was gone. Something had been taken from him.” (Fitzgerald 601) Again this event parallels the life of Fitzgerald and Zelda. Throughout the years after their marriage both Fitzgerald and Zelda suffer from drinking problems which lead to fighting in their relationship. Zelda’s actions become more and more eccentric over the years and eventually need psychiatric treatment. After her first major breakdown Fitzgerald loses Zelda for good. She spends the rest of her life as a resident of insane asylums.
As one can plainly see, Fitzgerald molded the extraordinary story “Winter Dreams” after his own life and times, by often referring to happenings in his own life white slightly distorting the details. Although while mirroring his own life Fitzgerald also integrates the traditional idealistic American Dream yet he does this in a negative way. Using all of these aspects allows the author to craft a creditable and praiseworthy story, “Winter Dreams”.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “Winter Dreams.” Elements of Literature Fifth Course. Robert E. Probst. Austin: Holt, 2000. 587-602.
A Brief Life of Fitzgerald. August 1999. U of South Carolina. 14 September 2003. .