Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Fitzgerald’s direct narrative style is as clear and straightforward as Dexter’s romantic purpose. The flashbacks and gaps in the story mirror Dexter’s on-again, off-again affair with Judy, though his unswerving obsession with her and the chronicle of it is emphasized here. Fitzgerald’s tale uses poetic language and diction, yet it does not imply more than it states, and, in the story’s episodic structure of fits and starts, it is loose enough to accommodate some things that are almost irrelevant. Dexter’s business success, for example, is fortuitous; the real attraction and attention of the protagonist and the reader is his private life.

The third-person limited omniscient point of view allows the reader to know Dexter’s story exclusively through Dexter’s thoughts and reactions to what is happening. It is necessary to remember that Dexter is a romantic idealist and that his temperament is responsible for both his idealization of Judy and his subsequent disillusionment.

Dexter’s enchantment with Judy and the vitality he draws from her are symbolized by the color and sparkle Fitzgerald uses to present her and to create a context in which Dexter can contemplate her. When he first sees her as a young woman, Dexter notices the blue gingham edged with white that shows off Judy’s tan; then, later in the afternoon, the sun is sinking “with a riotous swirl of gold and varying blues and scarlets” and Dexter swims among waters of “silver molasses.” The author establishes the painting motif when Dexter stretches out on the “wet canvas” of the springboard, which suggests that Judy’s seeming art of beauty and charm is all really superficial artifice. With Judy’s blue silk dress at their first dinner and her golden gown and slippers at their last dance, Dexter swoons “under the magic of her physical splendor.”

During his engagement to Irene, Dexter wonders why the fire and loveliness and ecstasy have disappeared. The very direction of his life, which he let Judy dictate by her casual whim, is gone as well, until she appears to play his heartstrings once more. Irene quickly fades from Dexter’s romantic imagination because there is nothing “sufficiently pictorial” about her or her grief to endure after he breaks up with her. Judy is the picture of passion and beauty, energy and loveliness, the true love and true dream that are with him until, learning of Judy’s decline, he recognizes it as a signal of the demise of his own dreams.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

The Jazz Age
In the aftermath of World War I American society went through a period of dramatic change. Traditional...

(The entire section is 675 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Fitzgerald employs a third person omniscient narrator in ‘‘Winter Dreams,’’ but with an innovative...

(The entire section is 416 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

  • 1920s: The Flapper, who presents a new, freer female image, becomes the model for young American women....

(The entire section is 155 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

  • Read over the passage where Dexter skis on the snow-covered fairways and feels a sense of melancholy. Write a poem or a short sketch...

(The entire section is 110 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

  • Fitzgerald's highly celebrated novel, The Great Gatsby (1925), shares many of the same themes as...

(The entire section is 94 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Anderson, W. R. ‘‘F. Scott Fitzgerald,’’ in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 4:...

(The entire section is 212 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Berman, Ronald. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the Twenties. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001.

Berman, Ronald. “The Great Gatsby” and Fitzgerald’s World of Ideas. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1997.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Jay Gatsby. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2004.

Bruccoli, Matthew J., ed. New Essays on “The Great Gatsby.” Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Bruccoli, Matthew J., ed. Some Sort of Epic Grandeur. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.

Curnutt, Kirk, ed. A Historical Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Eble, Kenneth. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1977.

Gale, Robert L. An F. Scott Fitzgerald Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Gross, Dalton, and MaryJean Gross. Understanding “The Great Gatsby”: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Kuehl, John. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1991.

Lee, A. Robert, ed. Scott Fitzgerald: The Promises of Life. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.

Meyers, Jeffrey. Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

Miller, James E., Jr. F. Scott Fitzgerald: His Art and His Technique. New York: New York University Press, 1964.

Stanley, Linda C. The Foreign Critical Reputation of F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1980-2000: An Analysis and Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2004.

Tate, Mary Jo. F. Scott Fitzgerald A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.

Taylor, Kendall. Sometimes Madness Is Wisdom: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, A Marriage. New York: Ballantine, 2001.