by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Winter Dreams Theme of Ambition
Dexter is not ambitious just for the sake of making tons of money. The narrator of "Winter Dreams" is careful to remind us that there is nothing "merely snobbish in the boy" (2.1). Dexter is an idealist: he associates cash with the graceful, attractive lives of the members of the Sherry Island Golf Club. In fact, making money is almost secondary to his main ambition of leaving behind his humble origins and joining the upper class. (Take, for example, his embarrassment: "His mother's name had been Krimslich. She was a Bohemian of the peasant class and she had talked broken English to the end of her days. Her son must keep to the set patterns" [3.2].) Dexter dreams of starting a new family, in which his children won't have to worry about being of the right class or stock. Money is a way to make that better life possible, but it's not a goal in itself.
Questions About Ambition
- What distinguishes Dexter from the other men in "Winter Dreams" who are also seeking financial gain? How does Dexter's success structure the plot of "Winter Dreams"?
- Can we compare Dexter's desire for money to Judy's desire for sexual fulfillment? How are the two similar, and how do they differ?
- We mentioned in our character analysis of Judy Jones that Dexter strongly identifies Judy with his more general financial ambitions. At what point in "Winter Dreams" does Dexter's desire for money separate from his desire for Judy Jones? What is the cause of this eventual splitting of purpose?
Chew on This
Dexter's effortless financial success allows Fitzgerald, as a writer, to downplay the difficulties of earning money. That way, "Winter Dreams" can focus instead on the major emotional problems that accompany business ambition.
Dexter's ambition does him more harm than good. After all, he ends up miserable and alone.