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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

11. Modernist Portraits

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Activities: Author Activities

F. Scott Fitzgerald - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: What about Judy Jones so fascinates Dexter in "Winter Dreams"? What in Judy's attitude attracts (or repels) Dexter? Why does the narrative describe her house repeatedly?

  2. Comprehension: Though Dexter succeeds brilliantly in New York, we discover at the end of the story that his "dream was gone," that a part of himself has somehow been lost. What do you think Dexter has lost? Why does he come to recognize this after hearing about Judy seven years after he left Minnesota?

  3. Comprehension: By calling his story "Babylon Revisited," Fitzgerald asks readers to compare the ancient city of Babylon--famed for its wealth and decadence, which eventually led to its downfall--to Paris in the 1920s. Why do you think Charlie's return to Paris to retrieve his daughter is a revisiting of Babylon?

  4. Context: While wandering through early 1930s Paris, Charlie reflects on the way he lived there before the 1929 stock market crash. In retrospect, how does he view his conduct when he was wealthy and seemingly carefree? In light of what you've read about the 1920s and the stock market crash, what does this story appear to be saying about the lives many Americans lived after World War I?

  5. Exploration: Consider other stories and poems that look back with longing or regret to a time past. Consider "Birches" by Robert Frost or "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" by Ernest Hemingway--why do you think these texts dwell on this sense of loss and remorse? Are there historical events or cultural developments that help to explain this shared preoccupation?

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