Winter Dreams

Winter Dreams Section 2  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Several years later, Dexter’s winter dreams convince him to “pass up a business course at the State university” to “[attend] an older and more famous university in the East.” Though he is bothered by his lack of wealth compared to the other students, his winter dreams convince him that he cannot merely have an “association with glittering things and glittering people”—he also wants to become one of the glittering people and own the glittering things.
A state university does not meet Dexter’s standard of social prestige. To become a member of society’s upper echelon, he insists on learning at their institutions. Still, his social anxiety impacts him, for he cannot be among wealthier students without thinking about all of the things he does not yet have.
Themes
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
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After college, Dexter returns to Minnesota and goes “to the city from which Black Bear Lake draws its wealthy patrons.” Only twenty-three, he develops a reputation for business acumen. He opens a small laundry, which specializes in washing “fine woolen golf-stockings,” and becomes so successful that he opens the “largest string of laundries in his section of the country” before turning 27.
Dexter starts a business that caters specifically to the wealthy. He uses his experience as a caddie, as well as his observations of the wealthy patrons at the golf club, to cater to the tastes of social elites and to distinguish himself from his competitors – just as he had distinguished himself as a caddie.
Themes
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 weekend guest pass to the club. This leads to him spending an afternoon playing golf with Mr. Hart, Mr. Sandwood, and T.A. Hedrick. He remembers having once carried Mr. Hart’s bag and he glances at the four caddies “who trailed them,” checking to see if he recognizes himself in them, which would forge a link with his past.
The invitation indicates that he is finally welcome as a member (rather than an employee), not only of the club, but as a part of the exclusive social group to which the three men belong. However, Dexter suddenly feels distant from his identity, uncertain about whether he belongs among the wealthy members or among the caddies who trail behind.
Themes
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
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Dexter’s feelings about being a guest at the club shift throughout the day. At one moment, he feels that he does not belong. In another moment, he feels superior to T.A. Hedrick and remarks on his being “a bore” and “not even a good golfer anymore.”
One of Dexter’s “winter dreams”—the pleasure of defeating Hedrick at golf—comes true, but it’s unfulfilling. T.A. Hedrick doesn’t even seem like a worthy opponent anymore, since Dexter has set his sights much higher.
Themes
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Get the entire Winter Dreams LitChart as a printable PDF.
Winter dreams.pdf.medium
Mr. Hart loses a ball on the course, prompting the men to search for it. Suddenly, “a bright new ball” comes over the hill and hits T.A. Hedrick in the stomach. Judy Jones claims it as hers, which prompts Hedrick to complain about her presence—and that of women in general—at the club.
Judy’s “bright new ball” evokes the memory of how she first appeared on the golf course, surrounded by crisp white. Judy is the sole woman in a male-dominated space and occupies it just as confidently as she did when she was a girl.
Themes
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Dexter finds Judy “arrestingly beautiful,” a sentiment that is shared by Mr. Sandwood. Mr. Hedrick, however, seems to think that Judy is not good-looking because she “always looks as if she wanted to be kissed! Turning those big cow-eyes on every calf in town.”
Judy is unimpressive to Hedrick because her promiscuity does not adhere to traditional standards of female conduct. Hedrick’s “cow and calf” analogy suggests that she preys on the naivete of young men with her sexual knowledge.
Themes
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
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Later in the afternoon, Dexter meets Judy while he is out swimming in the lake and she is out on her motor-boat. She introduces herself with an “absurd smirk” that he finds “merely beautiful” and asks if he knows how to drive a motor-boat because she wants to “ride on the surf-board behind.” After listening to her explain how to drive the boat, he takes it over and she swims out “to the floating surf-board with a sinuous crawl.” Dexter watches her and notices the burned butternut color of her arms and how they “moved sinuously among the dull platinum ripples.” While swimming, she asks him for his name, then invites him to dinner at her house for the following evening.
Judy’s “absurd smirk” is an attempt to make a mockery of her beauty, but Dexter cannot see that because he is so entranced by her appearance. He notices not only her beauty, but also her graceful movements and easy manner. She expresses a comfort with herself that he does not yet have. Her skin color is the result of a tan. In the 1920s, tanned skin was a social marker—an indication of someone’s ability to afford a vacation to a warm locale.
Themes
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition 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 appears downstairs for dinner, he is slightly disappointed in her simple dress and is surprised that there is no butler to announce dinner.
Dexter’s illusions disrupt his ability to enjoy an evening alone with a woman he desires. His relationship with Judy is both determined by and spoiled by his class pretensions.
Themes
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Related Quotes
During dinner, they talk about his university, “which she had visited frequently during the past two years.” Then, Judy’s mood sours and she reveals that she has just broken up with a 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.
Whereas Dexter had the opportunity to study at an elite university, Judy is only able to visit, probably in the interest of finding a suitable husband among the student body. Her search for a husband has had its disappointments, including a match who was unsuitable because he was poor. Judy decides on which men belong in her life based on how much money they have. Dexter qualifies only because of his recent wealth.
Themes
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon