From the time he first meets Judy Jones, Dexter's life is determined by what she represents to him--the romance of wealth, beauty, glamour, and excitement. He first meets her when she is a spoiled child about eleven years old, and he is fourteen, caddying at the Sherry Island country club. The difference between their social classes is evident. With her new golf clubs and her "white linen nurse," Judy is obviously the daughter of a wealthy club member.
Dexter is aware of her beauty, knowing she would become very beautiful in time. He finds her intriguing; even her spoiled behavior is amusing to him, making him laugh without realizing it. It is at that moment that Judy calls to him: "Boy!" Dexter stops in his tracks:
Beyond question he was addressed. Not only that, but he was treated to that absurd smile, that preposterous smile--the memory of which at least a dozen men were to carry into middle age.
As a result of this encounter with Judy, Dexter quits his job that very day. It is an enormous decision for him, one that frightened him; coming from a poor family, Dexter needed the money he earned caddying at the club during the summers. His impulsive decision to quit he attributed to having received "a strong emotional shock." Judy's rich life and her addressing him as a servant had reminded him of his own status, and he rejected it.
Years later he returns to Sherry Island as a wealthy young man and falls into a summer romance with Judy. She breaks his heart. Dexter eventually gives up the idea of her and becomes engaged to another woman, Irene Scheerer. One evening when Irene could not go out with him, Dexter goes alone to a dance where he encounters Judy again. After reminiscing, they leave together, and Dexter drives her home. Judy cries, telling Dexter she would like to marry him. "I'll be so beautiful for you, Dexter," she says. His reaction is one of emotional intensity:
Then a perfect wave of emotion washed over him, carrying off with it a sediment of wisdom, of convention, of doubt, of honor. This was his girl who was speaking, his own, his beautiful, his pride.
When Judy invites him to come inside with her, Dexter hesitates, then says "I'll come in," with a voice that trembles. Dexter renews his romance with Judy that night and breaks his engagement to Irene, changing his plans for the future the moment Judy calls him back into her life.