Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Next evening, while he waited for her to come down-stairs, Dexter peopled the soft deep summer room and the sun-porch that opened from it with the men who had already loved Judy Jones. He knew the sort of men they were – the men who when he first went to college had entered from the great prep schools with graceful clothes and the deep tan of healthy summers. He had seen that, in one sense, he was better than these men. He was newer and stronger. Yet in acknowledging to himself that he wished his children to be like them he was admitting that he was but the rough, strong stuff from which they eternally sprang. (3.1)
Dexter is fully aware that Judy has other lovers. He also has a definite image in his mind of what kind of men they are: prep school guys. Here, Fitzgerald is setting up an interesting distinction between Americans with old money – who "entered from the great prep schools with graceful clothes and the deep tan of healthy summers" – and Americans who make their own fortunes. Dexter is a self-made man, "newer and stronger" than these sons of well-established families. But he also wants his own children to join that elite class of people with old money. It's not enough to be rich; Dexter also wants his family to be socially accepted by the upper class. Basically, he wants to have his cake and eat it, too.
Then, as he turned up the street that led to the residence district, Judy began to cry quietly to herself. He had never seen her cry before. (4.58)
There is something about Judy that is hard and untouchable. But here, as Judy tries to persuade Dexter to come back to her at the end of Section 4, she cries. This weeping makes her seem more vulnerable and human to Dexter. Why do you think she cries at this moment? What emotions could Judy be feeling here?
For the first time in years the tears were streaming down his face. But they were for himself now. He did not care about mouth and eyes and moving hands. He wanted to care, and he could not care. For he had gone away and he could never go back any more. The gates were closed, the sun was gone down, and there was no beauty but the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time. Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of illusion, of youth, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished. (6.35)
For Dexter, Judy's aging is physical proof of the fact that dreams just don't last. His childhood dreams of playing golf with T.A. Hedrick have all come true long ago. He has achieved all the material success he could possibly want. But what has happened to Dexter as a person? He has lost his ability to feel. All he has left is "the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time." He has become a mechanical force for making money. Fitzgerald suggests that achieving your dreams means losing emotion in favor of wheeling and dealing. He doesn't even care about Judy anymore – he's totally lost his ability to care.