Winter Dreams

Themes and Colors
Class Mobility and the American Dream Theme Icon
Gender and Ambition Theme Icon
Dreams, Happiness, and Reality Theme Icon
Time, Progress, and Repetition Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Winter Dreams, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

“Winter Dreams” illustrates how social class defines people’s lives, often with unfortunate results. Dexter Green, the story’s protagonist, is a fourteen-year-old caddie and the son of a small-town Minnesota grocer. However, Dexter is determined to become one of the wealthy men for whom he works at the Sherry Island Golf Course. These ambitions are “dictated to [him] by his winter dreams.” These “dreams” to possess “glittering things and glittering people” (the people and…

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Judy Jones, the daughter of the wealthy Mortimer Jones, is introduced as an eleven-year-old with a “passionate quality” and a perceptible “spark” that Dexter immediately finds bewitching. However, her imperiousness on the golf course leads Dexter to quit his caddying job. His “winter dreams” remind him that he should not be taking orders from someone so young. After making his fortune in the laundry business, Dexter sees Judy again; she is…

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Dexter pursues his “winter dreams” as though they will come true exactly as he envisioned them at fourteen. While the dreams provide him with the drive to become successful, they never bring him happiness—if they come true, he is dissatisfied, and if they fail to materialize, he is unfulfilled. Therefore, for Dexter, happiness is always just out of reach. His inflexibility and his fixation on illusions of perfection prevent him from being satisfied…

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Time in “Winter Dreams” moves according to two competing models: Fitzgerald juxtaposes a linear concept of time with a cyclical one. In the linear narrative, Dexter moves from Minnesota to the East Coast and becomes wealthy—his career progress, which occurs in tandem with his aging, is straightforward. However, Fitzgerald also uses the cyclical nature of time, depicted through the seasons, to tell the story of Dexter’s lack of emotional maturation. From the moment he is…

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