Chronicling the American Dream
Every person has a different way of interpreting the American Dream. In a majority of stories, the characters always makes the American Dream sound happy and without consequence. F. Scott Fitzgerald breaks out of this mold to tell us the other sides of the story readers are so used to hearing. Like every classic American Dream, it is the tale about a person who wishes for all the good things in life and uses hard work and determination to make their dream a reality. But as Fitzgerald shows us in “Winter Dreams,” it may seem like the perfect life but sometimes it is not what one expects it to be. In “Winter Dreams,” F. Scott Fitzgerald uses his main character, Dexter Green, to chronicle the trials and tribulations of a man working towards the prototypical American Dream as well as show the negative effects of the dream. Fitzgerald begins to chronicle the story by focusing on a young man named Dexter Green. Dexter, at this time, already strives for the privileges, status, and wealth of the high, elite classes of society. Like the majority of those who pursue the American Dream, the protagonist comes from humble beginnings. Dexter starts out as a simple caddy at a golf course working for extra spending money. It is at this golf course that Dexter encounters the embodiment of his dreams: Judy Jones. Judy and Dexter are at opposite ends of the social chain. Judy is already part of the world Dexter longs to be a part of. Judy is born into wealth and gets everything she wants. Dexter is born into the poor immigrant class and has to work for what he wants. He is determined to do exactly that. When ordered to be her caddy, he quits his job realizing that should he caddy for her, it would ruin his dream. Even when he is begged not to leave, Dexter is determined and confident in his abilities to rise up from his low position. The last thing Dexter wants is for Judy to look at him as if he is inferior to her. Dexter wants to be able to have Judy as his own in order to show that he was worthy enough to even be with her. He did not want to serve her, for that would establish that he was, in fact, lower than Judy (Flibbert 1). Fitzgerald writes, “He wanted not association with glittering things and glittering people – he wanted the glittering things themselves.” (746). Like all who strive for the American Dream, Dexter was determined to get what he wanted through diligence and ambition. “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.” (746). He soon receives a chance to start his journey a few years later by going to college and subsequently establishing himself in the business world. Already, Fitzgerald has described the simple beginnings of the American Dream put into motion through his main character, Dexter. As Fitzgerald traces Dexter’s movement toward this goal, he becomes, in essence, a social historian of his generation, chronicling the dreams on men and women of the 1920s who saw unlimited opportunities in the new century (“Winter Dreams” 211). During this era, Americans experimented with the freedom of expressing personal and social freedom in what they did. Like many Americans at this time, Dexter becomes lost in the pursuit of happiness in wealth and pleasure over riding the traditional standards of hard work, social conformity, and respectability (“Winter Dreams” 213). After exiting college and establishing his business, Dexter knows how to act, dress, and talk like a rich person. His business aids him greatly through his upper class clients who interacted with him on a daily basis. He returns to play at the same golf club he used to caddy and plays with the men he once used to caddy for. The same golf club where he once served the elite is now where he is being served. Readers now see Dexter’s transformation from young, ambitious caddy to budding, successful entrepreneur. It is...
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