2. “Who are you, anyhow?”
“I’m nobody,” he announced. “My career is largely a matter of futures.”
This exchange between Judy and Dexter takes place at the end of part III, when the couple is talking on the sun porch. The exchange is seemingly innocuous, but Dexter’s answer reveals his essential failing and the personal obstacle he is never able to overcome as he searches for identity and meaning. As an individual, shorn of class distinction or the mark of worldly success, Dexter has a limited grasp of who he is. His winter dreams primarily concern rising above his station in life, ignoring the intangible aspects of happiness and personal development, which flounder in his drive for wealth. Dexter is a “nobody” who turns to the professional world and his own success for self-definition. However, when it comes to establishing his presence as a fully realized individual, Dexter lingers on the edge of himself, as when he hovers in the shadows of a party held at the club where he lives, watching the dancing couples. He is unable to penetrate the heart of not only this world of frivolity but of himself as well.
Happiness with Judy and then Irene eludes Dexter as he looks to these objects of his desire to define him. Judy in particular is a disastrous choice, a female complement to his persona of a lost wanderer unable to firmly root himself in his life. Judy’s question reveals her often shallow way of relating to those around her. While the question smacks of abstract concerns of identity, Judy is simply slyly asking Dexter whether he is of adequate financial means. Her follow-up question of “Are you poor?” shows the true nature of her inquiry and reveals the extent to which she is interested only in a man who can provide her with material goods. If her partner is devoid of personal character, a state Dexter dangerously flirts with, she doesn’t much care.