F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterful "Winter Dreams," frequently discussed as a first draft of The Great Gatsby, looks at the themes of attaining dreams and pursuing hopeless ventures. To explore these themes and others, Fitzgerald presents readers with Dexter, a young man of ambition who lacks the clarity to find fulfillment in his dreams.
In the story, Dexter becomes disillusioned as he is “unconsciously dictated to by his winter dreams” (p. 2). These dreams are of both a love interest and material gain. Over time, Dexter goes from knowing what he wants to “[surrendering] a part of himself to the most…unprincipled personality" (p. 5).
If one believes that Dexter's problems stem from a lack of clarity on the value his dreams, one piece of advice to comfort Dexter may be to prioritize his pursuits. The story leads us to believe that dreams without purpose are destined to fail; Fitzgerald ends the story noting that "even the grief [Dexter] could have borne was left behind in the country of illusion," signaling Dexter's dreams as unattainable (p. 9). Dreams and goals therefore must mean something to an individual for one to find fulfillment in making their dreams reality.