The Harsh Reality of "Winter Dreams" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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There often lies a disparity between the idea of something and that something’s reality: the idea seems much brighter than that something itself. This conviction arises in all aspects of one’s life, from politics, to religion, to hobbies, to entertainment, and relationships. F. Scott Fitzgerald examines the harsh reality of such a dilemma in his work “Winter Dreams.” This story follows a self-made, successful man, Dexter, and his inner struggle between the need to attain wealth and success. Ultimately, Dexter is forced to face reality when this desire clashes with his fantasies surrounding Judy Jones, the woman of his pursuit. As a writer of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s characters often assume a materialistic lifestyle and a self-justifying importance to conceal their desire for the central truth. Through his work, Fitzgerald manages to define, honor, and criticize what is known as the American Dream: the belief that anyone, no matter their background, can attain success, material wealth, and prosperity. In “Winter Dreams,” Fitzgerald masterfully uses characterization and symbolism to illustrate the demise of the unachievable, American Dream, and the rising disconnect between reality and idealism.

Fitzgerald cleverly uses the characterization of Dexter Green to illustrate the conflictions between his self-motivation and genuine intentions in attaining the American Dream, and his superficiality that results. Dexter’s middle-class background is no coincidence. The narrator first introduces Dexter Green as a fourteen-year old caddy at the Sherry Island Golf Club, and the son of a successful grocer in Black Bear, Minnesota. Some caddies at the golf club are “poor as sin,” working hard to support their destitute lives, whereas ...

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...onsequently results from the relentless quest of the so desired American Dream. In the end, wealth and status take the place of genuine and authentic connections with people, diminishing the likelihood of true pleasure and self-fulfillment. As a result, Dexter is forced to accept that money does not buy happiness, regardless of his vigorous efforts and hard work in obtaining such success. Similar to Dexter Green, Fitzgerald is remembered as a self-made man, eager to rise above his hereditary placement in life. Reflective of his personal life, Fitzgerald's conflicted characters are a true representation of modernist's shallow nature, making his work definitive of the social history of the Jazz Age.

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “Winter Dreams.” Introduction to Literature: Pearson Custom Library. New
York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2011. 135-153. Print.

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