In Winter Dreams, what do you think Judy wants and gets from Dexter?  

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting question! In the story, Dexter is infatuated with Judy, a woman who treats him with "interest, with encouragement, with malice, with indifference, with contempt." Because Judy is a great beauty and is used to being fawned over by men, she doesn't think twice about dismissing a suitor once she becomes bored. As a seductress, she is able to inspire both "ecstatic happiness" as well as an "intolerable agony of spirit" in any man. It looks like Judy is the sort of temptress who prefers to have the upper hand in any relationship. She certainly does revel in the 'gratification of desires' and seems impervious to masculine attempts to usher her to the wedding altar.

Judy only pays attention to Dexter because he is independently wealthy; after callously rejecting a man because he is as "poor as a church-mouse," she becomes sexually involved with Dexter. However, to his humiliation, Dexter finds himself only one of many suitors Judy is juggling in her life. We get the idea that Judy wants a man who is sexually attractive, wealthy, and supremely confident. He would be nothing at all like the men who constantly vie for her attention, for the purposes of securing her interest. Judy becomes easily bored with men who are emotionally reliant on her, as we can see from the way she treats the son of the president of a New York trust company. She basically leaves this rumored beau dangling while she cavorts with another love interest.

By all indications, Judy is not averse to marriage. After all, she does get married, but to a man who is by all indications a deplorable husband. He drinks and "runs around" on her, and she is certainly not the center of his world. But it is rumored that she "stays at home with her kids" despite this. One thing is clear: Judy's husband does not appear to be emotionally reliant on her.

As described above, what Judy wants from Dexter, he cannot give her, and he is wise enough to recognize this.

...when he had seen that it was no use, that he did not possess in himself the power to move fundamentally or to hold Judy Jones, did he bear any malice toward her. He loved her, and he would love her until the day he was too old for loving--but he could not have her. So he tasted the deep pain that is reserved only for the strong, just as he had tasted for a little while the deep happiness.

All Judy gets from Dexter is his ceaseless infatuation with his idea of the woman she is. Even as he remembers "her mouth damp to his kisses and her eyes plaintive with melancholy and her freshness like new fine linen in the morning," Dexter comes to the conclusion that everything he has ever felt about his relationship with Judy is a mirage. He becomes greatly disillusioned, knowing that he can never retrieve all that he thinks he has lost.