Winter Dreams

Winter Dreams Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on F. Scott Fitzgerald's Winter Dreams. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota to Irish Catholic parents. After preparatory school, he enrolled at Princeton University in 1913, but never graduated. He entered the army as a second lieutenant in the summer of 1917. The following year, while stationed in Montgomery, Alabama, he met his future wife, Zelda Sayre. They married in 1920, the same year in which Fitzgerald published his first novel, This Side of Paradise. The marriage produced one child, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, known as “Scottie,” who was born in 1921. Already a literary success and a prolific writer of short stories, Fitzgerald moved to Paris, where he befriended other writers in the “the Lost Generation” with which he became associated, notably Ernest Hemingway. While in Europe, in 1925, he wrote and published his most successful work, The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald continued to publish other works in the 1930s, including Tender is the Night. He then made a living as a screenwriter until his death from a heart attack, induced by years of alcoholism, at the age of 44.
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Historical Context of Winter Dreams

Dexter Green briefly mentions “the war [coming] to America in March.” The First World War began in 1914 (the United States entered in the Spring of 1917) and ended in 1918. The period after the war was marked by economic prosperity, partially due to more efficient manufacturing and increased consumerism, as well as a viable market in “bootlegging” (or, the illegal manufacture of alcohol). The Eighteenth Amendment, which banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, was passed in 1920. The Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was ratified in the same year.

Other Books Related to Winter Dreams

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald tells the story of Jay Gatsby, an ambitious man from a poor, rural background who wants social prestige, much like Dexter in “Winter Dreams.” “The Rich Boy,” a story published in 1926, deals with the personally destructive effects of illusions. All of these works also exhibit Fitzgerald’s use of nostalgia as a theme (since each protagonist seeks to relive the past) and they address the seeming impossibility of true love. The stories also explore the nightmarish aspects of the American Dream, due to recurring plots in which rich, socially prominent people meet tragic or unhappy fates.
Key Facts about Winter Dreams
  • Full Title: Winter Dreams
  • When Written: 1921-1922
  • Where Written: St. Paul, Minnesota
  • When Published: December 1922 in Metropolitan magazine; February 1926 in Fitzgerald’s third volume of stories, All the Sad Young Men
  • Literary Period: Modernism
  • Genre: Short Story
  • Setting: Minnesota and New York City
  • Climax: Devlin, a business associate from Detroit, tells Dexter that Judy is unhappily married and has lost her looks.
  • Point of View: Third-person omniscient

Extra Credit for Winter Dreams

The Muse. In 1914, Fitzgerald met Ginerva King, a beautiful, alluring girl from an exclusive Chicago suburb. Though the teenaged Fitzgerald was quite enamored with her, he was one of many boyfriends and she married someone else. Ginerva was reputed to be the inspiration not only for Judy Jones, but also for Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby and Isabelle in This Side of Paradise.

The Diver. Dexter fantasizes about giving “an exhibition of fancy diving” at the Sherry Island Golf Club to entertain wealthy elites. While vacationing with his wife, Zelda, in the south of France, Fitzgerald would accept her challenges to dive off of dangerously high cliffs while wealthy and famous friends watched.