How is the idea of the American Dream different from Dexter’s “winter dreams” in "Winter Dreams"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think there are many similarities between the American Dream and Dexter's "winter dreams" in this great short story. Notice how in the second section of the story, he, in spite of his middle-class background, manages to achieve an almost rags-to-riches success that makes him the richest man of his age:

He made money. It was rather amazing... Dexter borrowed a thousand dollars on his college degree and his confident mouth, and bought a partnership in a laundry... Before he was twenty-seven he owned the largest string of laundries in his section of the country.

Of course, this is only part of Dexter's "Winter Dreams." The wealth, success, glamour and elegance achieved through self-reliance and ambition that characterises the American Dream is also symbolised through the figure of Judy. You might want to think about how Judy Jones is associated again and again with wealth and glamour to make this symbolism clear:

Judy Jones, a slender enamelled doll in cloth of gold: gold in a band at her head, gold in two slipper points at her dress's hem.

Therefore there seems to be very little disparity between the American Dream and the "winter dreams" of Dexter Fletcher. Indeed, the two seem to be synonymous: equally tantalising and yet ultimately hopeless.