What are examples of figurative language in "Winter Dreams?"

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

F. Scott Fitzgerald uses figurative language such as similes, metaphors, and symbolism in Winter Dreams. As we read, we can make note of the figurative language.

Similes and metaphors are both forms of comparison, but similes use "like" or "as." A metaphor does not use those words, but we...

Read
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

F. Scott Fitzgerald uses figurative language such as similes, metaphors, and symbolism in Winter Dreams. As we read, we can make note of the figurative language.

Similes and metaphors are both forms of comparison, but similes use "like" or "as." A metaphor does not use those words, but we know that the simply-stated comparison is not literal. For example, when Fitzgerald writes "turning those big cow eyes on every calf in town," he is comparing the characters to animals. Hedrick says this about Judy, meaning that her eyes are wide open for potential men, because "she always looks as if she wants to be kissed."

Phrases such as "poor as sin" and "poor as a church mouse" are similes that can also be considered idioms, or common sayings. We understand that Fitzgerald is telling us they are very poor.

Fitzgerald also utilizes lists as figurative language:

Summer, fall, winter, spring, another summer, another fall—so much he had given of his active life to the incorrigible lips of Judy Jones. She had treated him with interest, with encouragement, with malice, with indifference, with contempt. . . . She had insulted him, and she had ridden over him, and she had played his interest in her against his interest in his work—for fun. She had done everything to him except criticize him.

In the above passage, Fitzgerald lists the seasons to give us a sense of how enamored Dexter is with Judy. He also lists all the ways Judy has treated Dexter, in order to emphasize her continuous mistreatment and his desire for her in spite of it.

The following passage is an example of the rich imagery Fitzgerald uses:

In the fall when the days became crisp and gray, and the long Minnesota winter shut down like the white lid of a box, Dexter's skis moved over the snow that hid the fairways of the golf course. At these times the country gave him a feeling of profound melancholy—it offended him that the links should lie in enforced fallowness, haunted by ragged sparrows for the long season. It was dreary, too, that on the tees where the gay colors fluttered in summer there were now only the desolate sand-boxes knee-deep in crusted ice. When he crossed the hills the wind blew cold as misery, and if the sun was out he tramped with his eyes squinted up against the hard dimensionless glare.

What literary devices can you identify? How does the passage make you feel? How does Fitzgerald's language help you understand how Dexter feels?

Fitzgerald also uses symbolism in the story, such as the boat, golf balls, and winter.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Judy Jones seeks self-satisfaction. Growing up, a spoiled child, she is accustomed to measuring things in terms of wealth rather than in terms of happiness. This is why she complains: 

I'm more beautiful than anybody else," she said brokenly, "why can't I be happy?" 

Although Judy is superficial and often treats Dexter indifferently, he idealizes and idolizes her as if she is some pristine beauty, glittering and unreal: like a dream. Judy is consistently compared to the illusion of a dream or daydream. 

Upon hearing from Devlin that Judy's beauty has faded, Dexter's ability to dream in ideal ways and at least attempt to believe in their possibility is also gone. Judy had been Dexter's metaphor of superficial daydreams (like the one where he became a golf champion). When this metaphor is broken by the reality of Judy's fading beauty over time, Dexter loses the ability to care about such dreams. 

When Judy invites him to dinner in Part II, Fitzgerald uses boating imagery in a simile (using like or as) to describe Judy's effect on Dexter. "His heart turned over like the fly-wheel of the boat, and, for the second time, her casual whim gave a new direction to his life." Dexter "was unconsciously dictated to by his winter dreams." Fitzgerald uses the fly-wheel simile to show how the dream of Judy affects Dexter; the same way a machine moves a wheel. 

Judy is consistently compared to a dream, using metaphor or simile. In Part IV, when she and Dexter start seeing each other, she is described as "fresh as a dream" connecting two dream-like attributes: the illusion of her immortal desirability and the elusiveness of courting her without her seeing other men. A dream is, unless realized, like an illusion and until it is realized, it remains elusive. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team