The Destructive Nature of the American Dream in F. Scott Fitgerald’s Winter Dreams

The Destructive Nature of the American Dream in F. Scott Fitgerald’s Winter Dreams

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The concept of the American dream has been related to everything from religious freedom to a nice home in the suburbs. It has inspired both deep satisfaction and disillusioned fury. The phrase elicits for most Americans a country where good things can happen. However, for many Americans, the dream is simply unattainable. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams,” Dexter Green, a hardworking young man born into the middle class, becomes wrapped up in his pursuit to obtain wealth and status in his life. These thoughts and ideas represent Dexter’s fixation on his “winter dreams,” or, the idea of what the American Dream means to him: gaining enough wealth to eventually move up in social class and become somebody, someday. As Dexter attempts to work himself up the social ladder, he falls in love with Judy Jones, a shallow and selfish, rich woman. But to Dexter, Judy represents the very idea of the American Dream-- obtaining wealth and status. Dexter’s pursuit of Judy and essentially the American Dream becomes an obsession. In the end, Dexter is forced to accept the realization that his “winter dreams” are actually just empty wishes. By characterizing Judy as a superficial, materialistic woman, Fitzgerald criticizes the destructive nature of the American Dream.
Through her rich and wealthy lifestyle, Judy represents what living in the upper class would be like for Dexter. Fitzgerald presents this idea by stating that Dexter “wanted not associated with glittering things and glittering people- he wanted the glittering things themselves” (1012). The “glittering thing” that Dexter wants to possess is Judy Jones. He does not wish to be just like any another wealthy individual, but wishes to possess this “glittering thing,” so that he wi...

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...: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002. 95. Print.
Eble, Kenneth. F. Scott Fitzgerald Limited Edition. Ed. Sylvia E. Bowman. N.p.: Twayne Publishers, 1977. Print. Twayne’s United States Authors Series.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “Winter Dreams.” American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. Seventh ed. Vol. II. New York: Norton & Company, 2008. 1010-25. Print. The Norton Anthology.
Perkins, Wendy. “Criticism.” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Carol Ullmann. Vol. 15. Detroit: Gale, 2002. N. pag. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Mar. 2011.
Pike, Gerald. “Excerpts from Criticism of the Works of Short Fiction Writers.” Short Story Criticism. Ed. Thomas Votteler. Vol. 6. Detroit: Gale Research International Limited, 1990. 90. Print.
“Winter Dreams.” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Carol Ullmann. Vol. 15. Detroit: Gale, 2002. N. pag. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Mar. 2011.

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