When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.
In the first two pages of the novel, the narrator, Nick Carraway, retrospectively looks back on a cathartic experience that has fundamentally changed the way he sees the world. Nick alludes to the fact that his expectations of humanity and morality have been corrupted.
We learn later that Nick served in World War I, which explains the word choice of “wanted the world to be in uniform” and the desire for it to stand at “moral attention.” After the orderliness and discipline of the military, his excursions to Long Island seem riotous and unruly. Unfortunately for Nick, his desires for orderliness and morality don’t jibe with the Jazz Age, characterized by big parties and loose morals.
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