What is the mood and tone of "Winter Dreams"?

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In "Winter Dreams ," Dexter longs to obtain the favor of a girl named Judy Jones. But in every meeting and every opportunity with her, she seems to draw him just close enough—and then run in a different direction. Judy has a hypnotic effect on Dexter, creating a wistful...

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In "Winter Dreams," Dexter longs to obtain the favor of a girl named Judy Jones. But in every meeting and every opportunity with her, she seems to draw him just close enough—and then run in a different direction. Judy has a hypnotic effect on Dexter, creating a wistful tone in the story as he chases her for years:

There was a pause. Then she smiled and the corners of her mouth drooped and an almost imperceptible sway brought her closer to him, looking up into his eyes. A lump rose in Dexter's throat, and he waited breathless for the experiment, facing the unpredictable compound that would form mysteriously from the elements of their lips. Then he saw—she communicated her excitement to him, lavishly, deeply, with kisses that were not a promise but a fulfillment. They aroused in him not hunger demanding renewal but surfeit that would demand more surfeit . . . kisses that were like charity, creating want by holding back
nothing at all.


It did not take him many hours to decide that he had wanted Judy Jones ever since he was a proud, desirous little boy.

But Judy does hold back in the end. She shares her affections with many young men in town, and then she drops them all every time new guy moves in. Dexter waits for her, always hoping for a more solid commitment, but this is not something Judy is willing to give. She comes in and out of his life for years, at one point convincing him to break up with his fiancée so that they can be together. Not surprisingly, it doesn't last. There is an understanding that Judy is forever an ideal that is out of Dexter's grasp, but he wistfully holds on to the idea of her until the very end of the story.

The mood, therefore, is gloomy. Time after time, Dexter allows himself to be used and discarded by Judy. He lets a hope for happily ever after with Irene slip between his fingers when Judy returns once more. And in the end, all of his waiting amounts to nothing when he realizes that Judy has married someone else and has even lost her youthful beauty and the charms that he so admired. He has spent his youth chasing a dream that could not be obtained, and Fitzgerald ends the story on a hopeless note: "Now that thing is gone, that thing is gone. I cannot cry. I cannot care. That thing will come back no more." The story shows disillusionment and the futility of chasing dreams.

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In "Winter Dreams" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the tone is one of melancholy. Fitzgerald paints a dim picture of Dexter's loss of the American Dream so well embodied in Judy Jones, a thoughtless, shallow woman who becomes Dexter's obsession throughout this short story. From the first time Dexter sees Judy at age eleven until the last time he is with her, giving up a chance for real happiness with Irene Scheerer, having Judy becomes his one goal, his one dream. This dream is shattered at the end of the story when Fitzgerald allows the reader to understand just how Dexter's world crumbles by following the wrong dream.

The mood in "Winter Dreams" is one of disillusionment and discontent. Dexter begins as a confident, young man and amasses a great deal of wealth on his own through his laundry business. He is discontent with his social status and wants to rise above his mother's humble beginnings. Enchanted by Judy Jones, Dexter sets out to win her over; she represents everything he has ever wanted: status and beauty. However, Judy does not appear to know how to love. She is concerned with money and flirtation, not relationships. At the close of the story, Dexter discovers that Judy is married to an abusive man and has children; she has "faded" at the age of twenty-seven. Just as he is disillusioned by his image of Judy, he becomes discontent with life: "Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of illusion, of youth, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished (IV).

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F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story was written in 1922, and believed by Fitzgerald scholars to be the forerunner of The Great Gatsby because of its theme of class differences and how they factor into matters of the heart and the sadness of a misspent life.

The overall mood and tone of the story could be called lamenting or discontented. Dexter Green never seems to find happiness: not as a young man when he dreams of financial success, not in his relationship with Irene, not in his acquisition of wealth, career success and consequent social access, not in his on-again off-again relationship with Judy, and certainly not when he learns of Judy's sad fate as a betrayed wife who has lost her beauty.  

Dexter is mournful at the story's end as realizes that, in many ways, he has wasted his youth chasing after illusions.

 

 

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