In the minds of the contemporaries, F. Scott Fitzgerald was and is not just a writer, but a living legend, who embodied the spirit of the time. In 1920s, he became the idol of American youth that saw him as a brilliant exponent of their own attitudes and beliefs. This reputation stuck with him forever, and even today the American critics continue to call him a singer of a “jazz age”. Nowadays, nobody doubts that the works of Fitzgerald, along with the works of Anderson, Hemingway and Faulkner – are a highly significant phenomenon, as they reflect the whole epoch of the development of American consciousness, and have absolute aesthetic value.
It is difficult to say how many stories Fitzgerald wrote. The number increases substantially, if all his childhood and youth works are taken into consideration. However, the number that the critics use, 160, sounds very impressive.
One of his short stories, “Winter Dreams” – was written in 1922. Fitzgerald considered it to be a first draft of the Gatsby idea, as a lot of themes from it were developed later in his prominent novel The Great Gatsby, written in 1925.
At the beginning of “Winter Dreams”, the protagonist Dexter Green is only thirteen years old. His family is well-off, but Dexter works at the golf club as a caddy and makes some extra money. He is an ambitious teenager, who dreams of success and glory. There, at the golf club, he meets a beautiful, capricious and spoiled Judy Jones and falls in love with her. However, time goes by, and he realizes that Judy is light-headed and unstable. Because of his deep feelings towards her, Dexter breaks off his engagement with another girl Irene, only to be dumped by Judy in a month. Dexter is a realist at heart. When everything between them is over, he realizes that he tried everything, but they just never meant to be together. Dexter’s character is rather complex; he pragmatically assesses the situation, makes the necessary conclusions and does not fall into despair. However, Dexter is a hopeless romantic at heart and his hopes and dreams illuminate and warm up him from the inside.
Spiritual crisis comes when Dexter learns that his dream has deceived him. He is not surprised by the fact that Judy got married, but rather by the fact that she turned into an ordinary housewife. She has lost her radiant beauty, and everything that made her so desirable and dreamlike. For the first time of his life, Dexter feels the emptiness inside him. In such a way, Fitzgerald subtly shows a contrast between the external success and spiritual fullness of life.