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