In Winter Dreams by F. Scott Fitzgerald, what does Dexter feel like doing for the first time in his life when he learns that Judy is no longer beautiful?  

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liesljohnson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dexter is normally a very down-to-earth guy, not someone who loses control of himself or overindulges in food, alcohol, or drugs. But when he finds out that Judy is no longer beautiful, for the first time in his life, he feels like drowning his sadness in alcohol:

A sort of dullness settled down upon Dexter. For the first time in his life he felt like getting very drunk. He knew that he was laughing loudly at something Devlin had said, but he did not know what it was or why it was funny.

Dexter's acquaintance has just reported that Judy is no longer a great beauty, that she looks just "okay" now, and that she's "faded" from the stunning, enchanting woman that she always was, ever since the tender age of eleven or so when she first charmed Dexter on the golf course. This news about Judy doesn't simply make Dexter sad; it destroys him and everything he'd dreamed about in his life. For him, Judy wasn't just a beautiful woman; she was beauty itself.

So you can forgive Dexter, or excuse his impulse, when he realizes he wants to use alcohol to erase the pain of this realization. In the context of other characters in Fitzgerald's body of work--that is, compared to the other young men and women in Fitzgerald's stories who indulge regularly in all kinds of excesses, including alcohol--Dexter remains an outlier, someone who typically exhibits self-control and moderation.

You can read more about these characters here to get a deeper understanding of why Judy's beauty is so important to Dexter.

Read the study guide:
Winter Dreams

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