Winter Dreams Summary
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Winter Dreams Summary

"Winter Dreams" is a shot story by F. Scott Fitzgerald that details the life of Dexter Green and his tumultuous relationship with a woman named Judy.

  • Dexter first sees Judy while working at a gold course. He falls in love with her, but doesn't pursue her romantically until he becomes a successful entrepreneur.
  • After realizing that Judy will never commit fully to him, Dexter gets engaged to another woman. Judy seduces him, but they eventually break up. 
  • Years later, Dexter hears that Judy has gotten married and lost her looks. He weeps for the loss of his youthful illusions.

Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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F. Scott Fitzgerald divides “Winter Dreams” into six episodes. In the first, fourteen-year-old Dexter Green, whose father owns the “second best” grocery store in Black Bear Lake, Minnesota, has been earning thirty dollars a month pocket money caddying at the Sherry Island Golf Club. He is responsible and honest, touted by at least one wealthy patron as the “best caddy in the club.” His decision to quit his job comes suddenly—proclaimed, to incredulous protests, to be the result of his having got “too old.” Such public excuse masks the real and private reason: Dexter has just been smitten head-over-heels by the willful, artificial, and radiant eleven-year-old Judy Jones, who, with her nurse, shows up at the club carrying five new golf clubs in a white canvas bag and demanding a caddy. Dexter watches her engage in a sudden and passionate altercation with the nurse, which piques his interest and works to align him with Judy. He not only sympathizes with her but also senses that an equally sudden and violent act on his part (his resignation) can be the only possible response to the “strong emotional shock” of his infatuation.

In the second episode, which takes place nine years later, Dexter has become a successful entrepreneur in the business world. His laundries cater to moneyed patrons by specializing in fine woolen golf stockings and women’s lingerie. Playing golf one afternoon with men for whom he once caddied, Dexter contemplates his humble past by studying the caddies serving his party, but the reverie is broken when a golf ball hits one of the men in his party in the stomach. It was driven by Judy Jones, now an “arrestingly beautiful” woman of twenty, who, with her partner, nonchalantly plays through Dexter’s foursome.

After an early-evening swim, Dexter is resting on the raft farthest from the club and enjoying strains of piano music from across the lake. Judy approaches by motorboat, introducing herself and requesting that Dexter drive the boat so that she can ride behind on a surfboard, making clear that she is dallying to delay returning home, where a young man is waiting for her. The encounter ends with her offhand invitation to Dexter to join her for dinner the following night.

In the third episode, visions of Judy’s past beaux flit through Dexter’s mind as he waits downstairs for Judy, dressed in his most elegant suit. When she does appear, though, Dexter is disappointed that she is not dressed more elaborately. In addition, her depression disturbs him, and when, after dinner, she confides that the cause of it lies in her discovery that a man she cared for had no money, Dexter is able to reveal matter-of-factly that he is perhaps the richest man of his age in the Northwest. Judy responds to this information with excited kisses.

The fourth episode forms the culmination of Judy’s tantalizing and irresistible charm. It shows a dozen men, Dexter among them, circulating around her at any given moment, always entranced, alternately in and out of her favor.

After experiencing three ecstatic days of heady mutual attraction following their first dinner, Dexter is devastated to realize that Judy’s attentions and affections are being turned toward a man from New York, of whom she tires after a month. Thereafter, she alternately encourages and discourages Dexter, and when, eighteen months later, he realizes...

(The entire section is 994 words.)