FORMS OF CAPITAL IN F. SCOTT FITZGERALD'S "WINTER DREAMS"/LAS FORMAS DEL CAPITAL EN "WINTER DREAMS", DE F. SCOTT FITZGERALD.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940) "properly belongs with the American social realists and social historians, the line that extends from Wharton, Dreiser, Tarkington" (Bruccoli and Baughman 1996: 173). As Malcolm Cowley stated, he never lost a sense of living in history as if he "wrote in a room full of clocks and calendars" (2002: 85). His fiction provides some of the best insights into the lifestyle of the rich during one of America's most prosperous eras, one remembered by critics and readers as capturing the ambiance of the twenties. The financial and literary success of Fitzgerald's stories was limited, gradually they sold less and less and the Saturday Evening Post finally refused to publish them in 1937 (Meyers 1994: 80); hence, his short fiction, as Gerald Pike notes, "exhibits maturity of form and style, but it has received very little serious critical scrutiny" (1986: 315). In line with other late 19th-century realist writers, Fitzgerald attempted to portray various manners, classes, and stratifications of life in America combining a wide range of details derived from observation and documentation, to this end. Corina Grosu in "The Roaring Twenties and the Effects of Consumerism in Fitzgerald's Novels" believes that the characters portrayed by Fitzgerald have a tendency to see and value each other in terms of their materialistic possessions; thus, they consider people as objects that can be bought and sold (2012: 238). The central thematic concerns of Fitzgerald were of course those of his time and of his country and, as Reinsch notes, the Jazz Age, of which Fitzgerald is the best-known writer, was a time of economic prosperity, cultural and social changes (2012: 31). These issues figure clearly in "Winter Dreams"--a short story representative of the Roaring Twenties--about class. "Virtually everything F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote contains an inherent consciousness of class struggle", observes Johnson (2008: 9). Exploring the worlds of the characters in Fitzgerald's fiction indicates that they are always pursuing the American dream of wealth and social status. What Fitzgerald, then, presents here could be fruitfully read through Pierre Bourdieu's sociological views on individual relations in terms of four forms of capital: economic, cultural, social, and symbolic. The present article attempts to read "Winter Dreams" in terms of these forms of capital. The Sociology of literature is an interdisciplinary area where two disciplines present a vast array of interrelated and interdependent fields: history, politics, society, manners, customs, culture, philosophy, and religion. At issue here is the interrelationship between social structures and text structures. Our reading of Fitzgerald's "Winter Dreams" based on Bourdieu's theorization of culture generally lies within this large interdisciplinary area of study.
Searching through the considerable body of criticism on this short story we see that what is mainly discussed is sociological concepts such as money, the American Dream and representation of women and stylistic issues. As examples of more sociologically-oriented studies, Wendy Perkins (2002) and Ronald Berman (2005) stand out among those critics who discuss Dexter's version of the American Dream and how it fails him. Similarly, Todd Fisher in "American Masters. F. Scott Fitzgerald: 'Winter Dreams'" (2002), looks into Fitzgerald's luxurious lifestyle as reflected in the story. "'Winter Dreams' and Summer Sports" (1982) by Neil Isaacs, likewise, discusses how such luxuries as golf depict Judy Jones' true value. Among studies focusing on the representation of women, mention could be made of "Tamed or Idealized: Judy Jones's Dilemma in 'Winter Dreams'" by Quentin Martin (2000), which explores contradictory ways in which men treat Judy Jones. Analogously, "Fitzgerald's Women: Beyond Winter Dreams" by McCay (1983) examines two kinds of women portrayed by Fitzgerald: 'useless women' (such as Judy Jones and Daisy Buchanan) and those depicted in later works who contrast with them (such as Kathleen and Cecilia). Clinton S. Burhans in "Magnificently Attuned to Life: The Value of 'Winter Dreams'" (1969) comments on Judy's inconsistencies and considers her behavior towards men. Similarly, Zhang and Cui in their article "A Feminist Reading of Fitzgerald's 'Winter Dreams'" (2014) argue that the story mirrors the disillusion of the American dream and the fact that even in the 1920s America women had to surrender to the doctrine of patriarchy. As for psychologically-oriented readings of the story, James Mellard's "Oedipus Against Narcissus: Father, Mother, and the Dialectic of Desire in Fitzgerald's 'Winter Dreams'" (2002) takes on board the Oedipal aspects of the story in connection with the hidden plot and the Family Romance. In "Four Voices in 'Winter Dreams'" Pike (1986) discusses the poetic language, its authorial voices, and the writer's method of showing Dexter's romance with Judy. Tim Randell's 'Metafiction and the Ideology of Modernism in Fitzgerald's "Winter Dreams"' (2012) reads the story as a metafiction deploying the Brechtian concept of the alienation effect, ten years before Brecht, and argues that it is one of modernist's greatest achievements incorporating dialectical metafiction. In light of these developments, the present contribution considers the applicability of Pierre Bourdieu's theories to F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Winter Dreams", a work which is "richly evocative, containing some of [his] best writing" (Prigozy 1989: 99). Bourdieu's work is empirical and grounded in everyday life and can be considered as cultural sociology or a theory of practice. Thus, we aim to look into the story from a specifically sociological perspective arguing that it uncannily puts on display the operation of different forms of capital.
For Bourdieu, capital includes both material and symbolic resources leading to power and control in the social field. Agents strive to maximize their capital, since accumulation of capital provides them with various opportunities to define their 'social trajectory' (their life chances) which in turn leads to their success within a certain field. According to Bourdieu, capital takes four principal forms: economic, social, cultural, and symbolic capital (1986: 241). Economic capital embodies actual or potential finances of the agent which could include the primary form of money, assets and property rights and is considered the most fundamental type of capital (Moore 2008). Bourdieu places social capital in relational analysis with other forms of capital and with field (1986) which, in turn, provides an opportunity for a more functional and relational understanding of situations. The focus of social capital is that "relationships matter" and "social networks are a valuable asset" (Field 2008: 13-14); it can be defined as a set of opportunities and relations within groups and social networks that increases the agent's chances, information, material sources, and social status. The third capital is cultural capital, also referred to as 'cultural competence' or 'cultural knowledge' (how to dress, table manners, etc.) (Lareau and Weinniger 2003: 576, 578) demonstrating social actors' familiarity with the dominant culture in a society. According to Bourdieu, cultural capital bears three sub-forms: embodied, objectified, and institutionalized. The embodied cultural capital is analogous to habitus because it represents dispositions that are carried by social actors. Accordingly, "the very attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions that become embodied cannot be transmitted instantaneously; they come with time, engagement, practice and want" (Hampton-Garland 2009: 43). Contrary to the embodied state of capital is the objectified state--existing outside the agent's mind and body, embodying physical objects, such as works of art--which symbolically convey the agent's status. Finally, there is symbolic capital, which is the institutionalized state of capital whereby agents are measured, certified, and ranked (Bourdieu 1986: 243). Like the embodied form, it cannot be transmitted and is acquired only under certain conditions.
Symbolic capital is an ideological form interrelating the three fundamental forms of capital. As Bourdieu illustrates, these fundamental powers are economic capital (in its different forms), cultural capital, social capital and symbolic capital, which is the form that the various species of capital assume when they are perceived and recognized as legitimate (1990: 28). Symbolic capital is a perception that bears no meaning by itself; it becomes meaningful when it is recognized by others and acts as a "magical power" (Bourdieu 1998: 102). In its symbolic form, it enables the agent to define and influence the reproduction of certain values.
Another key term here is the concept of field which is a social class-based hierarchy where due to "a sense of placement" or a "game sense", the agents compete for the most symbolic and economic capital (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 97). Every field embodies a set of common assumptions taken for granted by the actors and the agents within that field who are encouraged to invest their different forms of capital to acquire symbolic capital (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 98). Through the concept of field, one can explain the behavior of the agents in a certain market, for it explores a network of objective relations between positions. The relation between field and types of capital is illustrated by Richard Jenkins in the following passage:
A field, therefore, is a structured system of social positions-- occupied either by individuals or institutions--the nature of which defines the situation for their occupants. It is also a system of forces which exist between these positions; a field is structured internally in terms of power relations. Positions stand in relationships of domination, subordination or equivalence (homology) to each other by virtue of the access they afford to the goods or resources (capital) which are at stake in the field. These goods can be principally differentiated into four categories: economic capital, social capital (various kinds of valued relations with significant others), cultural capital (primarily legitimate knowledge of one kind or another) and symbolic capital (prestige and social honor). (1992: 53)
According to Kirk Curnutt, "entrepreneurial young men discover that, despite a talent for mimicking the fashions and leisure of the wealthy, they are not accepted by that class but can only achieve instead what Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1898) calls 'pecuniary emulation'" (2004: 99). Bourdieu's theories go beyond Veblen by considering the economic as well as three other forms of capital to examine what and why agents do engage in certain practices (subjective) in their social structures such as field, institutions, discourses, and ideologies they inhabit (objective), shedding light on both the subjective and the objective.
2.1. Field of "Winter Dreams"
The plot of "Winter Dreams", published in Fitzgerald's collection of short stories All the Sad Young Men (1926), at the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, revolves around Dexter Green, a young American man from the mid-west, who meets and falls in love with Judy Jones, a girl who belongs to the glittering world of the upper-class. Dexter fails to enter Judy's world of East Coast high society despite his toils. As this story was based on Fitzgerald's idea for The Great Gatsby, which also portrays social class through romance, our Bourdieusian analysis also refers to the novel.
To read the story in the light of Bourdieu's view of society we have to take into account the different positions of characters in the social arena and the way they strive to acquire capital of different kinds. Firstly, as Bourdieu suggests, mapping out the field is essential as this allows one to identify various positions for individuals in the field (Bourdieu 1984: 87). Accordingly, the setting or the social space presented in the novel should be identified which then permits observation of how people are classified in terms of those who succeed and those who lose the 'game'. Subsequent to identifying the field, the characters' different positions in addition to the form(s) of capital they possess and strategies used are considered. By locating the field of competition and specifying the kinds of capital the agents strive to acquire one can delve into the field in terms of positions and 'dispositions' of the agents. This way, ideologies defining 'success' and the amount of capital required could be explored.
In "Winter Dreams", the field (the social space where the competition takes place) is East Coast high society, Sherry Island. As Bourdieusian social space bears social status: the characters classify and make judgments about each other based on the social space they identify with (the social background they come from and/or the social space they are affiliated to/belong to or aspire to belong to). Hence, the geographical and social barriers that divide the Black Bear Village (where Dexter is from) from the Sherry Island (where Judy comes from) represent two diverse sets of values: the culture of the dominant/established (the old money) and the marginal but rising (the new money). At issue here is not a distinction of good and bad within the two cultures but the concept of change. Is change possible? Can a character alter his status in the social space? East Coast high society--where the game is played--is a social space which has its external boundaries and internal divisions in which each player is supposed to be aware of his/her position, and also of their position in relation to other players whose positions are predetermined within the field. Dexter and Judy must know the rules of the game and this knowledge is particularly vital to new players such as Dexter and Gatsby, in The Great Gatsby, who have to compete with all the high society men and the secret circle in the subfield of courtship to win Judy's and Daisy's hands respectively. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald distinguishes a two-fold division: West Egg, 'new money', and the East Egg, 'old money', as two luxurious neighborhoods mandating different codes of behavior and values. This division illustrates the geographical and social barriers representing two diverse sets of values: the culture of the dominant and that of the dominated.
2.2. Dexter's and Judy's Habitus and Symbolic Capital
Another concept to consider in our Bourdieusian analysis is habitus, that is, "a socially constituted cognitive capacity" (Bourdieu 1986: 255). As the social structures embodied in the agent, habitus is central to the agent's pursuit of symbolic capital--the ultimate form of capital--and the practices the individual engages in to accumulate this kind of capital. It is thus both a structured form and a structuring drive for the agent; the conditions and the society structure habitus, and in turn it structures the practices of the individual. As Pine explains, an agent's manners and strategies designed to accumulate any form of capital, specifically symbolic capital, are structured by their habitus, "symbolic capital is the intrinsic knowledge of how and when to employ manners in order to achieve social distinction by demonstrating superior taste, and those manners and tastes themselves are embodied in habitus" (2008: 27). The success of the characters in Fitzgerald's story depends on following the rules of the East Coast society; Dexter is aware of the differences of social status between Judy and himself. He does not approach her and only observes her from a distance; initially, he tries to be noticed and categorized as just a caddy and later, he thinks that the best measure is to quit being a caddy. "Suddenly, involuntarily, he laughed, a short abrupt laugh--then, startled by himself, he turned and began to walk quickly away" (Fitzgerald 1926: 166). The gap goes beyond economic aspects since Judy belongs to a class with certain codes of conduct distinguishing her from new money. These dos and don'ts embodied in habitus are related to different forms of capital possessed by agents. As Green, Neubert and Kersten put it, "Economic and cultural capitals are crucial conditions for the realization of social capital, that is, the network of relations and liabilities that inform the habitus" (2011: 172). There is also the more mysterious form of capital, that is, symbolic capital, "a form of power that is not perceived as power but as legitimate demands (or recognition, deference, obedience, or the services of others)" (Swartz 1997: 90). Dexter, then, has a more daunting ordeal to face than that of getting rich.
2.3. Dexter's Economic and Cultural Capital
Another key term to be considered in our analysis of Fitzgerald's story is the concept of capital and its subdivisions. As for economic capital, there are many references to money in the story, even love is measured in terms of money. Dexter's father owns "the second best grocery-store in town" (Fitzgerald 1926: 156) but Dexter still has to work for his pocket money. His career on the golf course as caddy makes him, as a boy with no inherited privileges, realize that the sparcity of his economic resources means disempowerment and that his social status will be altered if he becomes one of the golfers on the green. If he earns enough money, he thinks or fantasizes, he will be transformed from a caddy to a golfer that can win Judy, an Old Money woman, and the daughter of an upper-class businessman, Mortimer Jones, who has inherited her wealth through a long line of ancestors. Once Judy asks Dexter "Are you poor?" and he assures her that he is "probably making more money than many [his] age in the Northwest" (200). Money is an important issue to Judy as she cannot imagine marrying a man without a fortune. (It is only when she becomes certain that Dexter is not poor that she kisses him.) Dexter thrives in his business and before he is twenty-seven he manages to own the largest string of laundries in the Midwest thinking that now he is about to realize his dream of joining the club, of becoming a member of high society.
Although Dexter's first concern is the accumulation of economic capital, he understands that to be a part of the exclusive world inhabited by Judy, to be in the circle of the upper-class, and to be socially fit, he needs more than money: he needs to acquire cultural capital. Bourdieu emphasizes that possessions may be material and/or symbolic, hence the two main forms of capital: economic and cultural. As Nick Crossley explains,
Every individual, on Bourdieu's account, has a portfolio of capital, they have a particular amount or volume of capital, and their capital has a particular composition. Among the rich, for example, we find those whose wealth is weighted in the direction of economic capital and others whose wealth is weighted towards cultural capital (in practice Bourdieu's mapping of social space tends to focus upon these two forms of capital alone). (2008: 87)
Bourdieu further divides cultural capital into three: embodied, objectified, and institutionalized cultural capital. He holds that cultural practices are largely dependent on the agent's educational credentials, and social background (1984: 5). As Rob Moore illustrates:
In one form, capital is objectified. It is materially represented in things such as art works, galleries, museums, laboratories, scientific instruments, books, etc.--artefacts of various kinds. In another form, capital is embodied. Here, the principle of a field is incorporated within the corporality of the person as principles of consciousness in predispositions and propensities and in physical features such as body language, stances, intonation and lifestyle choices. Between these two is a third expression of capital in the form of habitus. Unlike objectified and embodied capital, habitus does not have a material existence in itself in the world since it includes attitudes and dispositions. (2008: 105)
Moore continues that "these forms of capital should be seen as being, in an important sense, continuous with each other, as 'moments' of one thing rather than three different varieties of the thing". Thus, prime instances of objectified cultural capital are "galleries, museums, libraries, concerts, etc"; for cultural capital as expressed in habitus (dispositions and attitudes) we have "knowledge of the canon, discrimination of genres and periods, the rules of the game", and for embodied cultural capital we have "cultivated gaze, poise, taste, desire for the recognition of distinction" (2008: 105-106).
The embodied form of Dexter's cultural capital is easily understood once his humble background is revealed: his money is not inherited but acquired through hard work making him a nouveau riche or New Money. And this of course affects his manners, the way he conducts himself in society--note especially his poise in the company of those belonging to higher classes--as well as his taste and his penchant for recognition. In contrast, Judy hales from a well-to-do, established family. Her "cultivated gaze" and "poise" are emphasized throughout the story to signify her being born into high society, the manners, gestures and subtle ways of the rich--the high and mighty--are second nature to her. However, Dexter has a hard time trying to maintain the right poise and tone in the company of high society. Although he is not "poor as sin", he is not one of "the wealthy people from Sherry Island" either (Fitzgerald 1926: 156). His is a humble background: "His mother's name had been Krimslich. She was a Bohemian of the peasant class and she had talked broken English to the end of her days. Her son must keep to the set patterns" (194). Dexter feels embarrassed about his mother's background, his father's job, and his own job; he moves to the East Coast mostly to leave behind his low social origins, to fashion a new identity for himself. He knows what he is and what patterns of behavior he must stick to. Here family and origins are highlighted as Dexter tries to leave his humble origins behind. For instance, he lies about his background and introduces himself as someone from Keeble. Similarly he "did not consider it necessary to remark that he had once carried Mr. Hart's bag over these same links. [...] he found himself glancing at the four caddies [...] trying to catch a gleam or gesture that would remind him of himself, that would lessen the gap which lay between his present and his past" (177). This shows how desperate he is to remake his identity as one belonging to the rich, hence his constant imitation of the cultivated manners and poise of the rich. Arguably, Judy is able to captivate many men not just because she is rich and beautiful but also because she is well endowed with embodied cultural capital. For instance, her "cultivated gaze" is emphasized by which she seems to mesmerize men. Dexter describes her "slender lips, down turning, dropping to his lips like poppy petals, bearing him up into a heaven of eyes [...] The thing was deep in him" (218). To him she is a goddess.
This type of cultural capital can be traced in The Great Gatsby too. Upon Gatsby's death, his father shows Nick a novel on which he had written his schedule and list of resolutions such as "read one improving book or magazine per week" in an attempt to accumulate embodied cultural capital. Gatsby thinks that by altering his habitus a sense of membership within his desired field becomes attainable as his actions, perceptions, and thoughts would assimilate to those of the class above him. Although he brings all his resources into the social space, he fails for not having the adequate capital which in this case is embodied cultural capital. He does not realize that cultural alignments learned during childhood are unconscious, taken for granted, hard to change, and powerful in shaping responses to later experiences. Unlike external wealth, embodied state is converted into an integral part of character, into a habitus, and cannot be transmitted instantaneously by gift or bequest, purchase or exchange. Thus, Gatsby cannot compete with Tom in winning Daisy's hand as he does not have the right knowledge of 'legitimate'--high culture--acquired through time.
Taste as a subcategory of cultural capital is the most relevant concept to be discussed here as it is central in marking out distinctions in the social space. The agent acquires taste in the early family setting; it signifies how one has been raised, the privileges and deprivations of one's life, showing people around you who you are and what you are made of by wearing certain brands, attending certain places and entertainments such as opera, preferring certain foods, works of art, etc. or generally interests which are played out in terms of attitudes and "cultural consumption" (Bourdieu 1984: 6-7). In short, in Bourdieu's formulation, taste is a social marker: "Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier. Social subjects, classified by their classifications, distinguish themselves by the distinctions they make, between the beautiful and the ugly, the distinguished and the vulgar, in which their position in the objective classifications is expressed or betrayed" (1984: 6).
Contrary to economic capital, which controls the actors' relations in terms of production, cultural capital controls the individuals' relations with consumption. Golfing, dinner parties, boating expeditions, extravagant cars and clothes embody the lifestyle of the upper-class. One's social class, then, is not merely a matter of financial status; manners, taste, and lifestyle figure too. Dexter knows that Judy's suitors are "the men who when he first went to college had entered from great prep schools" and are distinguished "with graceful clothes and the deep tan of healthy summers" (Fitzgerald 1926: 192). He has to compete for Judy with the sons of the well-established families and "wish[es] his children to be like them" (192). His manners, taste, and lifestyle, especially early on in his relationship with Judy, do not fit the upper-class circle. Judy is a girl who "simply made men conscious to the highest degree of her physical loveliness" (202). When she asks Dexter "Who are you, anyhow?" (199), she actually means to inquire about his taste and lifestyle. Dexter has to learn about how to dress, etiquette, and all the codes of the Old Money, things that are to mark him out as one of them. Judy's luxurious lifestyle indicates what living in the upper class would be like for Dexter. Once Judy is out to dinner with Dexter, he waits for her to come downstairs, trying to observe the appropriate upper class etiquette. He is dressed perfectly for this date with Judy: "He had acquired that particular reserve peculiar to his university [...]. He recognized the value to him of such a mannerism and he had adopted it; he knew that to be careless in dress and manner required more confidence than to be careful" (193). Dexter's objective is to win Judy's hand and this presupposes the lifestyle of the upper classes. The problem, however, is that Dexter is not brought up in the same context as Judy; he has not internalized the codes. The nonchalance of the upper classes is hard, if not impossible, to imitate. Judy has dressed informally, which may signify the triviality of the occasion to her. Judy's upbringing sharply contrasts with Dexter's and operating here is taste as the marker of social class, a way of ensuring social recognition and status. To Bourdieu tastes and aesthetic preferences create various life-styles; hence, consumption is not only a response to needs but is related to the workings of symbols, signs, and distinctions. To win the affections of Old Money, Dexter has to win Judy's heart and hand by internalizing the codes. He tries to reconstruct his identity in order to be considered comparable to "rich men's sons" who "were peddling bonds precariously, or investing patrimonies precariously, or plodding through the two dozen volumes of the 'George Washington Commercial Course'" (174). Just as people vary in economic capital, they are different in matters of taste and preference. Dexter eventually becomes rich and joins "two clubs in the city and lived at one of them [...] He could have gone out socially as much as he liked--he was an eligible young man, now, and popular with the down-town fathers" yet he "despised the dancing men who were always on tap for Thursday or Saturday parties and who filled in at dinners with the younger married set" (210). Comparably, in Gatsby's case it is cultural capital--in all its forms--rather than economic capital which constitutes a significant aspect of social life and of consumption of distinctive goods in particular. He is introduced as having a luxurious and flashy lifestyle; his house is modelled on a typically European style like a Hotel de Ville from Normandy "with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden" (Fitzgerald 1993: 5). Gatsby's flashily imposing mansion is that of a newly rich man who has gone to extremes to flaunt his financial status. In sharp contrast to Gatsby's mansion is the Buchanans' house, portrayed as classical in style, reminiscent of governmental buildings, reflecting order and balance. Although Gatsby's venture into luxury is supposed to reflect East Eggers' social codes, it fails him because taste is a matter of habitus. Gatsby has never been exposed to such living before coming to money, hence his display of taste and manners is artificial. His parties signify not only his economic capital but also the amount of cultural capital he possesses by displaying his taste in colors, clothing, drinks and food, dance and music. His parties are flamboyant in contrast to the Buchanans' well-ordered and controlled dinners. No matter how magnificent Gatsby's house or fabulous the parties, he is simply not a member of the upper class.
As for objectified cultural capital, there are not many references to places associated with art (galleries, museums, etc.) but references to parties, dance and music abound. Seeing Judy at a dance club, after becoming eligible as a successful young businessman, Dexter ruminates about his cultural capital: "He sat for an hour with Irene Scheerer and talked about books and about music. He knew very little about either. [...] [H]e had a rather priggish notion that he--the young and already fabulously successful Dexter Green--should know more about such things" (Fitzgerald 1926: 215). The fact that he knows that he should know "more about such things" indicates that Dexter knows that his overall capital is mostly composed of economic capital. Similarly, the only objectified cultural capital owned by Gatsby is his library and uncut books "imply[ing] that their consumers apply distinctive practices, and so, serve as surrogate representations of these practices" (Holt 1997: 102). Having such a grand library but lacking the means of 'consuming' its books suggests Gatsby's effort to draw attention to the different material manifestations of his assumed class status. He must therefore have found ways of appropriating the embodied capital as the assumption of consuming and appropriating such embodied cultural capital bestows distinction since it embodies scarcity value.
The institutionalized state of cultural capital--knowledge or skill earned by official or academic documents--is exemplified by Dexter's insisting on passing up "a business course at the State university--his father, prospering now, would have paid his way--for the precarious advantage of attending an older more famous university in the East" (Fitzgerald 1926: 172). Dexter chooses a prestigious Eastern college over a state school (easier to afford) to achieve more distinction. After college, he borrows a thousand dollars on his college degree and buys a partnership in a laundry, which soon grows to be the largest chain in the northeast. This way, his academic degree leads to promotion in economic and social status. Earning such kind of cultural capital becomes crucial to Gatsby too. Despite all his money, he still feels the need to pretend to be an Oxford graduate in order to be accepted as an equal in the eyes of the Buchanans. As Bourdieu reminds us, the children of the elite are best-equipped to accumulate the spoils of education.
2.4. Dexter's Social Bond
In terms of social capital, Dexter becomes financially successful and is soon socializing with upper-class society, including T.A. Hedrick and Mr. Hart, who once had Dexter as their caddy. He makes money and the right contacts; however, we are told, "he had no social aspirations" and had no interest in associating with upper class people, with the exception of Judy (Fitzgerald 1926: 184). Essential to social capital is that "relationships matter", that "social networks are a valuable asset" (Field 2008: 2-3). After Dexter becomes financially successful, he plays golf with the very men for whom he used to caddy. Though he seems to be forming a social bond with them, he remains an outsider. Likewise, Gatsby's parties are supposed to provide the social capital in a network of partygoers. Gatsby tries to accumulate social capital by having valued relationships with the East Egg community. As for Gatsby's acquaintance with Nick, Nick does not trust Gatsby at first but later he evaluates him as being far "better" than the people of the West Egg. When Nick tells Gatsby "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together" (Fitzgerald 1993: 98), he, ironically, means that Gatsby "turned out all right at the end" (4) precisely because he failed to became a member of the community he aspired to join.
What is important in accumulating social capital is how people establish relationships but Dexter is "at bottom hard-minded [...] completely indifferent to popular opinion [...]. He did not possess in himself the power to move fundamentally or to hold Judy Jones" (Fitzgerald 1926: 234). Bourdieu quotes Pascal on the benefit of being born into a noble family: "at the age of 18 it places a man within a select circle, known and respected, as another would have merited it at 50. It is to gain 30 years without trouble" (Bourdieu and Emanuel 1996: 373). This seems very relevant to Dexter's case. He is not from a noble family and he has not won Judy's hand in marriage. He works for the rich and he seems to be more concerned with amassing wealth than just associating with the wealthy. Thus, he does not establish strong bonds with the rich and this means that he does not possess an adequate social capital.
We are told that Dexter does not seek "association with glittering things and glittering people--he wanted the glittering things themselves" (Fitzgerald 1926: 173), that is, his accumulation of wealth is not just a matter of material things. As Cowley puts it, "the real dream was that of achieving a new status and a new essence" to ascend in the "hierarchy of human worth" (2002: 89). At issue here is symbolic capital, the ultimate form of capital. Dexter covets a life of wealth and affluence, certainly, but what he really longs for is the assumed effects of this mode of life: attention, status, admiration and of course Judy who symbolizes the things he desires. He rises from being a caddy to a businessman but joining high society is a complex process. For Bourdieu, power and dominance in social space is not limited to economic resources but is also a matter of cultural and social factors. Since "the value of any form of capital depends, in part, upon social recognition", it can be gathered that the values of different forms of capital depend on how important they are considered to be by individuals (Crossley 2008: 88). It would seem then that social recognition is dependent on the willingness of a series of individuals to place value on the social factors that are under discussion. Dexter believes that if Mr. Jones was "among those who watched him in open-mouthed wonder", he would be a proven member of the upper class (Fitzgerald 1926: 160) since its members are the ones who can bestow upon him the ultimate capital, symbolic capital. What Dexter and Gatsby cannot change are their backgrounds, where they come from. Dexter and Gatsby see marrying Judy and Daisy as acquiring symbolic capital. However, Dexter finds himself just "one of a varying dozen" of men "who circulate about her" (204). "Each of them", he realizes, "had at one time been favored above all others--about half of them still based in the solace of occasional sentimental revivals" (204). In Mr. Mortimer Jones' words, Dexter has "Never lost a ball! Willing! Intelligent! Quiet! Honest! Grateful!" (162). The key word here is that he is grateful; Mr. Jones believes that Dexter should be grateful for having the opportunity to caddy on the golf course. When Mr. Hart, nine years later, invites Dexter to the Sherry Island Golf Club to play, the rich see him as a successful businessman and condescendingly say "Now there's a boy" (174, emphasis in original). He has gained some recognition but is not yet given the pass to their circle. In other words, he does not yet possess the symbolic capital that comes with wealth. Even Judy repeatedly calls Dexter "Boy" instead of mentioning his name (166). Finally, Judy marries Lud Simms, a rich man, and even though he mistreats her--"drinks and runs around"--she "[s]tays home and takes care of her kids" (239). Although they do not have a happy marriage yet there are things that tie them together. It is evident that Judy and Lud's bond goes beyond mere wealth as they share the same origin and background. They seek to preserve their class and social order based on family and Old Money. Dexter's quest for a high position among the upper-class fails since he has not inherited his money. Judy is assertive with Dexter but when she marries a man of her own class she becomes submissive and stops "run[ning] around" on men (239).
2.5. Judy and Symbolic Capital
For Bourdieu, symbolic capital acts as a field of power because it leads to other agents paying attention to its possessor. However, using symbolic power against another implies symbolic violence. This is how individuals impose a specific meaning as legitimate while concealing the relations of power at its source (Bourdieu and Passeron 1990: 7-8). An instance of this in the story is Dexter being ordered about, at times insultingly, on the golf course--"Go pick up the young lady's clubs [...] What you standing there like a dummy for?" (Fitzgerald 1926: 170). Symbolic violence can further be traced in Judy's mistreatment of others. For instance, she persuades Dexter to cancel his engagement with Irene and Dexter accepts it. Even when Judy breaks her promise after a month Dexter does not "bear any malice toward her" (188), allowing her to treat him like that because he feels inferior to her. Judy ruins things or does damage and expects others to clean up the mess for her. Like Dexter, others easily allow themselves to be manipulated by her. Thus, symbolic capital can be considered as a weapon in a competition because this violence is not merely a matter of boasting about symbols, it is also about the need to maintain and nourish one's status. In other words, the agent tries not only to sustain whatever power he has won but to increase it where possible. Since it is not physical it can be expressed in many ways; in accordance with the function of this power, social control is produced symbolically and indirectly (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 174).
It is evident that matters of appearance, taste, and manners are integral components of the cultural, social and symbolic capital possessed by the elite--a sort of mysterious community--as they maintain their supremacy through symbolic power and social order. In The Great Gatsby, both Daisy and Tom have a secure network of people as demonstrated by their ability to "[retreat] back into their money" and "their vast carelessness", "[letting] other people clean up the mess", an advantage given to them for being "old money" (Fitzgerald 1993: 114). This is evidenced in Tom's treatment of Gatsby. He is perceived as a threat to their social order and they exert symbolic power over him through their comments and judgements. Tom alludes to the consequences of intermarriage between people from varied racial and socioeconomic classes, from an article he had read about the desterilization of civilization:
The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be--will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved [...]. This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things. "We've got to beat them down", whispered Daisy, winking ferociously towards the fervent sun. (10)
Tom is practically voicing concerns about the menace to the hierarchy of distinctions by such (mis)alliances. Interestingly, Tom rejects Gatsby's attempt at joining the privileged class in racial terms. Gatsby would be 'Black' and Tom 'White' representing 'New Money' and 'Old Money' respectively. Tom does not like the idea of Gatsby climbing the social order through bootlegging as this flouts the rules of the East Eggers. Social and economic change is feared by this secret society. Concerned about Gatsby's economic position, Tom refers to him as "Mr. Nobody from Nowhere" (Fitzgerald 1993: 138). Gatsby's nouveau riche ways are mocked, for they are not the ways of the secret society of which Tom is a member by birth. This is how the dominant group excludes individuals who are deemed a threat to order. All they do is tolerate Gatsby but as soon as he loses control over his manners they turn their backs on him. Dexter, however, remains an outsider to this elite society partly because he does not seem to be that passionate about joining it. He seems to be somehow having gone half-way on his journey to join it.
If "Winter Dreams" is a success story, it is also a story of failure. Drawing on the perennial American dream motif, it delves into the complexity of privilege. It is the story of an American boy of humble origins who works hard to reinvent his identity to win the hand of a girl who represents the East Coast high society. To be admitted into this society, he first increases the volume of his economic capital; then accumulates cultural and social capitals in order for the girl and her father to bestow upon him the symbolic capital he yearns for. He successfully makes his way through the business world and endeavors to acquire the required cultural capital through education. What he cannot alter though is his humble background. He fails in the field of courtship in which the rivalry is between him (a nouveau riche) and the more eligible suitors because he can never acquire the desired symbolic capital; this ultimate type of capital is given rather than accumulated by individuals. Despite his triumphal appearance in the world of the wealthy and influential elite, his beloved, a high society girl, does not seem able, or does not wish to close her eyes to his humble origins. His dream thus can only be a barren one, an instance of winter dreams. Similarly, in the novelized version of the story, Gatsby "does not know how to conform to the class to which Daisy belongs and to this class he seems ridiculous" (Chase 1957: 166). Marrying Daisy would bestow upon him an "image which might mask the deficiencies of his origins" (Goldsmith 2003: 447) which is more effective than his mansion, car, and grand parties; that is why he sees her as his "grail" (Fitzgerald 1993: 95). This does not happen of course because privilege has its codes and protocols according to which Gatsby cannot possibly qualify.
"Winter Dreams" is a typical Fitzgerald story in its depiction of success and its emotional and psychic cost. It is the story of an American boy who once "could not afford the luxury of proms, and he had stood outside the gymnasium and listened" (Fitzgerald 1926: 185, emphasis added). Described by Fitzgerald as "A sort of first draft of the Gatsby idea" (Bruccoli and Baughman 1995: 121), it is--like the famous novel--the story of an outsider who works hard to become an insider. Reading it through Bourdieu's theorization of capital helps unpack the complexity of what is at stake in such an enterprise.
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RAHELEH AKHAVI ZADEGAN
University of Tehran, Kish International Campus firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Isfahan email@example.com
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|Author:||Zadegan, Raheleh Akhavi; Pirnajmuddin, Hossein|
|Publication:||Miscelanea: A Journal of English and American Studies|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2019|
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