What is Dexter's eventual attitude toward Judy Jones's flirtations with men in Winter Dreams?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eventually, Dexter begins to understand that it is a part of Judy's character that she will carry on with men the way she does.  He mistakenly believes that he will be "the one" to hold her attention and charm.  Yet, Dexter realizes that the inarticulate passion of Judy lies in the fact that she is completely irrepressible.  It is Fitzgerald's genius to show freedom as a double edged sword in Judy's characterization.  What Dexter loves about Judy is her complete sense of freedom, but this is something that cannot be caged and contained.  Eventually, Dexter realizes that he will not be "the one" that shall enjoy Judy on a long term basis.  His eventual attitude towards her flirtations is a sense of resigned acceptance, an understanding that his pain will always be there because her sensibilities will refuse to surrender in the name of it.  Dexter physically leaves to get away from Judy and her flirtations, accepting that a part of being in the world is going to have to live with the pain of yearning something that can never be had.  Such a condition is a statement that happiness is relative, and that Fitzgerald sees consciousness as a result of living with that known to be painful.  This is an eventual understanding for Dexter, one forged through the pains of Judy's flirtation with other men.  It is for this reason that he weeps at the end of the story for "that thing is gone."