The story of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Winter Dreams which was first published in Metropolitan Magazine in December 1922, has come to be regarded as one of Fitzgerald's finest and most eloquent statements on the destructive nature of the American Dream. And a poem by Edgar Lee Master, Lucinda Matlock, emphasizes on pleasant nature of the American Dream. Dexter Green, the main character of the short story Winter Dreams, is striving for the American Dream; but Lucinda Matlock, a character from the Spoon River collection, lives a pleasant life and gives a pleasant verdict on life. Winter Dreams chronicles the rise of Dexter Green, a hardworking, confident young man who becomes caught up in the pursuit of wealth and status. When he meets Judy Jones, a beautiful, vibrant young woman, he sees in her an embodiment of a glittering world of excitement and promise. Judy represents for him the epitome of what he considers to be the intense and passionate life of the American elite. Through her, Dexter hopes to experience all the benefits that he believes this lifestyle can afford him. At the beginning of their relationship, he feels ecstatic. His senses become fine-tuned to the rarefied world with which he has come in contact. As a result, he becomes filled with an overwhelming consciousness and appreciation of this new life, though at the same time he recognizes the ephemeral quality of this moment in time, admitting that he will probably never again experience such happiness. Yet he fails to see the hollowness beneath Judy's surface, a hollowness that is also at the core of her world. By the end of the story, when Dexter watches his beautiful vision crumble, he is forced to admit the illusory nature of his winter dreams.
In the other hand, Lucinda lived a very long life of ninety-six years. From what Masters conveyed with his poem, it seemed like Lucinda enjoyed her life and was very satisfied with
everything she had accomplished. In the first lines of the poem she talks about going to different dances and how the frequently switched partners, until one day she met Davis.
They were soon married and stayed together for seventy years. She and Davis had twelve children, but eight of them died. How the eight children died never explained in the poem; if it is related to the time period of then, early 1900s, unless a family had the resources needed, some of the children may die. That shows, probably Lucinda had not a rich life, but still was satisfied with her life, doing also many house works, such as spinning, weaving, kept the house up and also nursed the sick.
Authors of the early twentieth-century used many different techniques to relate to and also tell about the people or things happening in their era, American Dream era, like how Dexter and Matlock were told. In the end, Dexter ended up achieving most important things to him, economic success, wealth, and social status while Matlock found peace through nature, despite having had significantly worse sorrows in her life.