Babylon Revisited: And Other Stories | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Course Hero, "Babylon Revisited: And Other Stories Study Guide," November 29, 2017, accessed September 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Babylon-Revisited-And-Other-Stories/.

Babylon Revisited: And Other Stories | Winter Dreams | Summary

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Summary

Dexter Green is a 14-year-old caddy at a golf course in Black Bear, Minnesota. He is a talented and ambitious boy. His father is reasonably prosperous, running the second-best grocery store in town. The story, which spans nearly 20 years, traces Dexter's trajectory from his teens to his young manhood after he has made a considerable fortune in the laundry business. It focuses on his infatuation with a beautiful, flirtatious, and willful girl named Judy Jones.

Dexter's first encounter with Judy occurs when she is only 11. Even at this age she is strong-willed and dominant. When she has grown into young adulthood, Judy invites Dexter to dinner. She confesses to him she has a materialistic streak. Kissing him passionately, she captivates his devotion. The relationship, however, is somewhat one-sided since Judy does not discourage the attentions of various other suitors. To counteract Judy's fickle behavior, Dexter begins to court another young lady, Irene Scheerer, and goes so far as to become engaged to her.

Eventually Dexter breaks off with both Irene and Judy. Years later he hears of Judy from a business connection. She has been unhappily married to a drunken rogue and is no longer beautiful. She has prematurely aged, and she stays home with her children. Upset and disillusioned, Dexter finally understands his vision of Judy, at least to a considerable degree, was a fantasy.

Analysis

"Winter Dreams" is one of the most evocative and moving stories in the collection. Fitzgerald's use of the third-person limited point of view, focusing on Dexter Green's perspective, is virtually flawless. Dexter's insistent yearning for wealth, romance, and glamour is offset by his vulnerability, bemusement, sensitivity, and capacity for hard work. He is, on balance, one of Fitzgerald's most appealing young male characters.

Why, then, can't Dexter make things work with Judy Jones? His fatal flaw is his penchant for fantasy. For Dexter, Judy is an icon rather than a real human being. This unrealistic idea in itself would be bad enough—but to compound the problem, she is also an icon in her own mind. She is happy enough to demand his devotion and then flirt with other men. Dexter's counteraction—the relationship with Irene Scheerer—is hollow and ill fated from the start.

Poetic justice finally arrives in the form of the business associate Devlin's report to Dexter about Judy at the end of the story. By this time Dexter is 32 and has done very well in business. Dexter finds each of Devlin's revelations devastating, especially that she is no longer a "pretty girl."

Full of regret, Dexter laments the loss of his dream. In Fitzgerald's poignant conclusion, "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." The elegiac mood in this conclusion is similar to the atmosphere in the final sentences of Fitzgerald's masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, published three years later in 1925: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

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