Comparing the Great Gatsby and Winter Dreams

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Fitzgerald Essay
“And one fine morning...” With this phrase, appearing on the last page of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby, narrator Nick Carraway effectively sums up the motivating force that drives the novel’s titular character, Jay Gatsby. It is the achievement of the American Dream that hangs – unreached – at the end of Carraway’s sentence. In this way, the story leaves us with a similar lasting taste of longing, the bittersweet realization that powerful as the Dream may be, it is just that: a dream. And yet, while the Dream, like the sentence – is never fully realized, this unrealization is itself a source of motivation for continuance. There is still the promise of that “one fine morning” making it impossible to condemn the novel, as it often is, as Fitzgerald’s dismissal of the American Dream. Rather, The Great Gatsby is an aggressive consideration that manages to at once explode the illusions that facilitate and propagate the Dream, while at the same time showing compassion – and even hope – for the Dream’s continuance. In this way, Gatsby succeeds where Winter Dreams fails. While the latter short story reads as a precursor for the novel as similarities abound, the respective conclusions differ greatly. Though Gatsby dies, he does so in a way echoed by Carraway’s abbreviated sentence. He dies unsatisfied but not yet defeated, not yet resigned. Conversely, Dexter Green (Winter Dreams) lives, but does so with the sad conclusion that “The dream was gone”. Fitzgerald’s dissatisfaction with this resignation was not just literary, but also personal. As he states of optimistic, dream-like ambition, “It is the history of all aspiration – not just the American Dream, but the human dream, and if I came at the end of it, that too is a place in the line of the pioneers.” The stories are similar, but The Great Gatsby is better because of the ending- as opposed to the ending of Winter Dreams. When reading both of Fitzgerald’s works, the reader would think that they are almost identical up until the end. Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby) and Dexter Green (Winter Dreams) are the two main characters in each of the works. They both have very similar backgrounds, and they both changed their identities. Jay Gatsby, first known as James Gatz, was born into a poor family, where he felt he did not belong. Dexter Green was also born into a family in which he felt he did not belong. So, to change their lives, Dexter and Jay changed their identities. After earning a living and climbing up on the social latter, Dexter and Jay became ‘new money’. Dexter and Jay are not the only characters that are similar. Judy Jones (Winter Dreams) and Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby) are also quite similar. Daisy and Judy are both rich, and are known as ‘old money’. Judy and Daisy are another example of components in each work that are similar, but their differences are more noticeable at the end of each of the works. One major difference that The Great Gatsby and Winter Dreams have is that there is no Nick Carraway in Winter Dreams. Nick Carraway is the narrator/story teller in The Great Gatsby. In Winter Dreams, Dexter is telling the story in first person. The theme in both of Fitzgerald’s works is the American Dream; although both works Pappin 2

compare and contrast the dream differently. The American Dream means many things, but mostly it means going from rags to riches, prospering, having status, and being ‘new money’. To Gatsby and Dexter, a large part of the Dream would be Judy and Daisy. To them, the dream meant impressing these women, and having them. Gatsby and Dexter both look as if they are thriving for the Dream, but the reader finds out at the end that the two characters ‘Dreams’ are quite different. Jay Gatsby and Dexter Green had different Dreams by the end of each story, but one thing that they for sure had in common was that they were ashamed of their background. Jay Gatsby, formerly known as James Gatz, changed his...
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