F. Scott Fitzgerald's ‘‘Winter Dreams’’ was first published in Metropolitan Magazine in December 1922 and collected in All The Sad Young Men in 1926. The story has come to be regarded as one of Fitzgerald's finest and most eloquent statements on the destructive nature of the American dream.
‘‘Winter Dreams’’ chronicles the rise of Dexter Green, a hardworking, confident young man who becomes caught up in the pursuit of wealth and status. When he meets Judy Jones, a beautiful, vibrant young woman, he sees in her an embodiment of a glittering world of excitement and promise. Judy represents for him the epitome of what he considers to be the intense and passionate life of the American elite. Through her, Dexter hopes to experience all the benefits that he believes this lifestyle can afford him. At the beginning of their relationship, he feels ecstatic. His senses become fine-tuned to the rarefied world with which he has come in contact. As a result, he becomes filled with an overwhelming consciousness and appreciation of this new life, though at the same time he recognizes the ephemeral quality of this moment in time, admitting that he will probably never again experience such happiness. Yet he fails to see the hollowness beneath Judy's surface, a hollowness that is also at the core of her world. By the end of the story, when Dexter watches his beautiful vision crumble, he is forced to admit the illusory nature of his winter dreams.