What are parallels between "Winter Dreams" and The Great Gatsby, and why are Dexter's dreams referred to as winter dreams?

2 Answers | Add Yours

mshurn's profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Winter Dreams, Great Gatsby, and Parallels

Why exactly is this story called Winter Dreams? I'm trying to find parallels between The Great Gatsby and Winter Dreams, and while both deal with the American Dream, I don't understand why Dexter's dreams are called Winter Dreams.

In Part I of the story, Fitzgerld discusses Dexter's emotions in terms of the seasons in which he feels them. When November comes and winter begins, Dexter loses himself in romantic imaginary adventures; these are his winter dreams. 

He becomes a golf champion (not a caddy) who beats Mr. T.A. Hedrick in a golf match. In Dexter's imagination, sometimes he beats Hedrick easily; sometimes he "came up magnificently from behind." In another of his winter dreams, he steps out of an expensive car in front of the Sherry Island Golf Club and strolls "frigidly" inside. (Caddies are hired help; they would not socialize in the Sherry Island Golf Club.) Significantly, Mr. Mortimer Jones, Judy Jones' wealthy father, also owns a Pierce Arrow. In Dexter's final romantic dream, he performs some fancy diving from the club raft while others watch him in "open-mouthed" wonder, including Mr. Mortimer Jones. (Caddies would not swim with the club members.)

Dexter's winter dreams are romantic dreams in which he is a Sherry Island Golf Club insider, a member of the wealthy social class to which he does not belong. Dexter leads a middle class life. His father owns a grocery store which is not even the best one. Dexter longs for a lifestyle he can only observe from the outside. In Dexter's dreams, he is the hero, the winner, one who is admired--and rich.

Instead of growing up and growing out of his fantasies, Dexter clings to them. They become a part of him. At the conclusion of Part I of the story Fitzgerald writes that " . . . Dexter was unconsciously dictated to by his winter dreams." It is his winter dreams that make him quit his job as a caddy and later decide to pass up a state university in favor of a more glamorous university he can barely afford to attend.

Fitzgerald tells us that even though Dexter's romantic winter dreams happened to concern being wealthy, he was not a snob. He didn't want to socialize with wealthy people in their world. Dexter wanted "glittering things." He wanted "the best." Ultimately, he does become very wealthy.

The parallels between Dexter Green and Jimmy Gatz/Jay Gatsby are strong. Both begin life as poor Midwestern boys; both long for beauty and romance; both fall in love with--and lose--beautiful, selfish women ; both believe that money will make their dreams come true; both of them are wrong.

One interesting difference between them concerns how they relate to their dreams at the conclusions of their stories. Gatsby dies holding on to his dream of Daisy, that she will call. Dexter feels his dream die and suffers for it. Dexter says, "Long ago . . . long ago, there was something in me, but now that thing is gone."

 

gbeatty's profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Good question. This story is "Winter Dreams" because it is about the season after growth and possibility. That is to say, early in the story it is, symbolically, spring. The world seems full of hope and promise, and more than a hint of love. However, by the end of the story, winter has come, symbolically, to the characters in the story. They've been chilled by life, and their possibilities are dormant, even dead, as a result.

We’ve answered 318,911 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question