Illusion is a tool that can be used by those who believe that their real self isn’t good enough, and they realize that they cannot change that, or, it can be forced upon someone, hiding who they truly are and giving people who are too lazy to look past the surface, but quick to judge anyway the complete wrong impression. In the 1920’s in America, society was extremely judgmental and did not care so much about who you are, but where you came from. This reality leads many people who came from less fortunate backgrounds to essentially recreate themselves, change the image that the world saw before them. Throughout his writing, F.Scott. Fitzgerald has used this idea that people use illusion to create a better and entirely different image of themselves, and how this recreation, no matter how true it is stuck to, often comes to a violent or unfortunate end. This idea of a character using illusion to present a what they consider a more favorable version of themselves is often used as a somewhat central idea, often the main characters of the story having something about themselves they are going to lengths to hide from the judgmental, prying eyes of the 1920’s society, examples of this being stories such as “The Great Gatsby”, “Winter Dreams”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, or “Diamond as Big as the Ritz”.
Dexter Green wants to play golf with those he once caddied for, and he wants to make himself what he considers “good enough” for the beautiful Judy Jones, a girl he fell in love with at the age of fourteen. Dexter leaves his small hometown in search of higher education. He gets rich and returns to Black Bear years later. Dexter has created an illusion of himself, a version that he considers as superior in every way, one that he believes will be viewed as more highly by society, one that will be respected more, not who he used to be, no, he keeps that hidden behind an obscuring layer of time, hidden away from everyone forever. Here Fitzgerald presents to the reader the fact that people will hide their pasts in an attempt to create a more convincing image of themselves, an image more favorable to the extremely judgmental and class-based society of the 1920’s in America. Throughout the story, “Dexter was unconsciously dictated to by his winter dreams.” showing that the illusion that he created, this dream that he had, drove him to what he did, to what he became, he dreamed of being better than everyone else, but he doesn’t realize that he can’t have Judy, because no matter who he was, there would still be ten other people who circulated around her.
Even the super-rich Jay Gatsby didn’t have everything. He had a huge mansion, threw extravagant parties with hundreds of guests, and all the pleasantries of being the richest of the rich, he still didn’t have one thing. This one thing he didn’t have was the one thing he couldn’t really buy with money, but it was the reason he worked so hard to get. He completely changed who he was for this thing. When Jay Gatsby met Daisy, he was a poor soldier, and she was a wealthy daughter of a politian, but he loved her and wanted more than anything to be with her, “So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent”, he created the elaborate illusion that he was someone else, so he could be good enough this girl, just as Dexter Green for Judy Jones, “…and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”. Across these books, the author has used the idea that people will go to great lengths to re-create themselves so they can have a chance with the “golden girl” even in the case of Gatsby if that means dying for it, though often the golden girl is careless and shallow, and not worth the transcendent efforts that characters such as Gatsby and Dexter have gone to to