Winter Dreams

Dexter Green Character Analysis

Dexter Green, the story’s protagonist, begins the story as a class-conscious teenager in Black Bear, Minnesota, and Fitzgerald chronicles his maturation into a successful New York businessman. Despite this professional growth and achievement, Dexter doesn’t mature emotionally until the end of the story when he realizes that his youth is gone. At first, Dexter is the middle-class son of a grocer in Black Bear, Minnesota who spends his summers working as a caddie at the Sherry Island Golf Club where he learns to model himself after wealthy members of the community. Despite his modest origins, he is eager to achieve wealth and social prestige—not only wanting to become an equal to those at the golf club, but also the equal of the Eastern elites who belong to old, well-established families. His social climbing leads him to attend university in the East, then to settle in New York after selling the chain of laundries he opened and operated in Minnesota. Throughout this journey, Dexter lusts after and falls in love with Judy Jones, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy club member. The two have an on-again-off-again relationship; after one break-up, Dexter becomes engaged to Irene Scheerer, but he breaks the engagement due to his obsessive love for Judy. Dexter loves Judy less for who she is than for the status she can offer with her great beauty and her family’s wealth. When Dexter learns that Judy’s beauty has faded, his “winter dream”—his illusion that money and proximity to the right kind of people can offer him security and happiness—also fades.

Dexter Green Quotes in Winter Dreams

The Winter Dreams quotes below are all either spoken by Dexter Green or refer to Dexter Green. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of Winter Dreams published in 2015.
Section 1 Quotes

Some of the caddies were poor as sin and lived in one-room houses with a neurasthenic cow in the front yard, but Dexter Green’s father owned the second best grocery-store in Black Bear—the best one was “The Hub,” patronized by the wealthy people from Sherry Island—and Dexter caddied only for pocket-money.

Related Characters: Dexter Green
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Winter Dreams quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

He became a golf champion and defeated T.A. Hedrick in a marvelous match played a hundred times over the fairways of his imagination, a match each detail of which he changed about untiringly—sometimes he won with almost laughable ease, sometimes he came up magnificently from behind. Again, stepping from a Pierce-Arrow automobile, like Mr. Mortimer Jones, he strolled frigidly into the lounge of the Sherry Island Golf Club—or perhaps, surrounded by an admiring crowd, he gave an exhibition of fancy diving from the spring-board of the club raft….

Related Symbols: Winter Dreams
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“I think I’ll quit.” The enormity of his decision frightened him. He was a favorite caddy, and the thirty dollars a month he earned through the summer were not to be made elsewhere around the lake. But he had received a strong emotional shock, and his perturbation required a violent and immediate outlet. It is not so simple as that, either. As so frequently would be the case in the future, Dexter was unconsciously dictated to by his winter dreams.

Related Characters: Dexter Green, Judy Jones
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Section 2  Quotes

Now, the quality and the seasonability of these winter dreams varied, but the stuff of them remained. They persuaded Dexter several years later to pass up a business course at the State university—his father, prospering now, would have paid his way—for the precarious advantage of attending an older and more famous university in the East, where he was bothered by his scanty funds…. He wanted not association with glittering things and glittering people—he wanted the glittering things themselves. Often he reached out for the best without knowing why he wanted it—and sometimes he ran up against the mysterious denials and prohibitions in which life indulges. It is with one of those denials and not with his career as a whole that this story deals.

Related Characters: Dexter Green
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

He did not consider it necessary to remark that he had once carried Mr. Hart’s bag over the same links, and that he knew every trap and gully with his eyes shut—but he found himself glancing at the four caddies who trailed them, trying to catch a gleam or gesture that would remind him of himself, that would lessen the gap which lay between his present and his past.

Related Characters: Dexter Green, Mr. Hart
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

One minute he had the sense of being a trespasser—in the next he was impressed by the tremendous superiority he felt toward Mr. T.A. Hedrick, who was a bore and not even a good golfer anymore.

Related Characters: Dexter Green, T.A. Hedrick
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Next evening while he waited for her to come down-stairs, Dexter peopled the soft deep summer room and the sun-porch that opened from it with the men who had already loved Judy Jones. He knew the sort of men they were—the men who when he first went to college had entered from the great prep schools with graceful clothes and the deep tan of healthy summers. He had seen that, in one sense, he was better than these men. He was newer and stronger. Yet in acknowledging to himself that he wished his children to be like them he was admitting that he was but the rough, strong stuff from which they eternally sprang.

Related Characters: Dexter Green, Judy Jones
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Section 3 Quotes

He could have gone out socially as much as he liked.... His confessed devotion to Judy Jones had rather solidified his position…. Already he was playing with the idea of going East to New York. He wanted to take Judy Jones with him. No disillusion as to the world in which she had grown up could cure his illusion as to her desirability.

Related Characters: Dexter Green, Judy Jones
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Summer, fall, winter, spring, another summer, another fall—so much he had given of his active life to the incorrigible lips of Judy Jones. She had treated him with interest, with encouragement, with malice, with indifference, with contempt…. She had insulted him, and she had ridden over him, and she had played his interest in her against his interest in his work—for fun. She had done everything to him except criticise him—this she had not done—it seemed to him only because it might have sullied the utter indifference she manifested and sincerely felt toward him.

Related Characters: Dexter Green, Judy Jones
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

He knew that Irene would be no more than a curtain spread behind him, a hand moving among gleaming tea-cups, a voice calling to children…fire and loveliness were gone, the magic of nights and the wonder of the varying hours and seasons…slender lips, down-turning, dropping to his lips and bearing him up into the heaven of eyes…. The thing was deep in him.

Related Characters: Dexter Green, Irene Scheerer
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Section 4 Quotes

A sort of dullness settled down upon Dexter. For the first time in his life he felt like getting very drunk. He knew that he was laughing loudly at something Devlin had said, but he did not know what it was or why it was funny. When, in a few minutes, Devlin went he lay down on his lounge and looked out the window at the New York sky-line into which the sun was sinking in dull lovely shades of pink and gold.

Related Characters: Dexter Green, Judy Jones, Devlin
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams, The Sun
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

The dream was gone. Something had been taken from him. In a sort of panic he pushed the palms of his hands into his eyes and tried to bring up a picture of the waters lapping on Sherry Island and the moonlit veranda, and gingham on the golf-links and the dry sun and the gold color of her neck’s soft down. And her mouth damp to his kisses and her eyes plaintive with melancholy and her freshness like new fine linen in the morning. Why, these things were no longer in the world! They had existed and they existed no longer.

Related Characters: Dexter Green, Judy Jones
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams, The Sun
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

For the first time in years, there were tears streaming down his face. But they were for himself now…. The gates were closed, the sun was gone down, and there was no beauty but the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time. Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of illusion, of youth, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished.

Related Characters: Dexter Green
Related Symbols: Winter Dreams, The Sun
Page Number: N/A
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire Winter Dreams LitChart as a printable PDF.
Winter dreams.pdf.medium

Dexter Green Character Timeline in Winter Dreams

The timeline below shows where the character Dexter Green appears in Winter Dreams. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
While some of the other caddies at the Sherry Island Golf Club are poor, Dexter Green’s father owns the second-best grocery store in Black Bear, MN. Dexter, therefore, caddies every... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
Dexter fantasizes about defeating T.A. Hedrick (an elite member of the golf club) in a golf... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
One day, Dexter meets Mr. Jones who, “with tears in his eyes,” tells him that he is sorry... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Judy calls to Dexter to inquire about the whereabouts of the golf teacher and the caddy-master, neither of whom... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
When the caddy-master appears, Hilda tells him that Dexter was unable to take them out on the course because he had to await the... (full context)
Section 2 
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
Several years later, Dexter’s winter dreams convince him to “pass up a business course at the State university” to... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
After college, Dexter returns to Minnesota and goes “to the city from which Black Bear Lake draws its... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
One day, when Dexter is still 23, Mr. Hart—one of the club’s “gray-haired” patrons who admires him—gives him a... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Dexter’s feelings about being a guest at the club shift throughout the day. At one moment,... (full context)
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Dexter finds Judy “arrestingly beautiful,” a sentiment that is shared by Mr. Sandwood. Mr. Hedrick, however,... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Later in the afternoon, Dexter meets Judy while he is out swimming in the lake and she is out on... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
At Judy’s house the next evening, Dexter imagines the wealthy young guests she has probably entertained in her summer room. When she... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
...young man for not telling her that he was poor. This prompts her to ask Dexter about his class background. He reveals that he is wealthy, which pleases her. (full context)
Section 3
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Dexter and Judy embark on a romance. She reveals that she thinks that she loves him,... (full context)
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Before the summer ends, Dexter learns that there are still other men. Furthermore, he realizes that Judy’s habit is to... (full context)
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
During three days in August, Dexter and Judy spend long evenings on her veranda. Between “strange wan kisses,” he asks her... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
When the summer ends, Dexter is 24-years-old and remains socially active, but, due to his “confessed devotion” to Judy, he... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
The following fall, when Dexter is twenty-five, he becomes engaged to Irene Scheerer, a nice, honorable young woman who is... (full context)
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
At the end of the week, Dexter goes to a dance where Judy is also present. He dances with her once, but... (full context)
Section 4
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
By May, Judy has gone traveling and Dexter is busy with Irene. The relationship brings him tranquility, compared to the “turbulence” he had... (full context)
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
One evening, in mid-May, Dexter and Irene plan to go to the University Club’s lounge to watch the dancers. However,... (full context)
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Together, Dexter and Judy drive downtown, then back toward the University Club. He wonders if she is... (full context)
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Judy acknowledges Dexter’s engagement to Irene and the mention of Irene’s name causes a feeling of shame in... (full context)
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
Judy then invites Dexter into her house. He accepts and spends the night with her. The decision leads him... (full context)
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
Dexter soon enters World War I as a first officer and, ironically, views the war as... (full context)
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
...seven years later, a business associate from Detroit, a man named Devlin, comes to visit Dexter. Devlin mentions that “the wife of one of his best friends,” Lud Simms, comes from... (full context)
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
The news causes Dexter to feel like rushing out and getting a train to Detroit. He feels disoriented by... (full context)
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
 For the first time in his life, Dexter feels like getting drunk to rid himself of the dullness that overwhelms him. He lays... (full context)