A further example of understatement comes from Nick Carraway right at the start of the book. Here, he describes his experiences of serving in the army during World War I:
I graduated from New Haven in 1915, just a quarter of a century after my father, and a little later I participated in that delayed Teutonic migration known as the Great War. I enjoyed the counter-raid so thoroughly that I came back restless.
Let's take a moment to reflect on just how casual this statement is. Nick participated in what at that time was the bloodiest conflict in human history, yet he talks about it as if it were just a minor episode in his life. And when he returns to American soil after the war, he doesn't describe himself as being shocked, disillusioned, or traumatized—he says he is merely "restless."
One gets the impression that Nick was able to move on from the war in a way that just wasn't possible for millions of others. The whole culture of the 1920s—the culture of the so-called Lost Generation—was profoundly shaped by World War I. Yet Nick doesn't appear to have been affected in the same way as his contemporaries. It is this marked degree of separation from those around him that enables Nick to be such a faithful observer and which, in turn, makes him such an excellent narrator.