The Grapes of Wrath
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Steinbeck begins the novel with omens of the hardships to come. He describes the arrival of the dust in terms befitting a biblical plague. The dust storm overwhelms Oklahoma, clouding the air and even blocking out the sun. However, the end of the storm only represents the beginning of the hardships for the Oklahoma farmers. A sense of hopelessness sets in almost immediately. There seems to be no solution for the farmers, who are resigned to their fate and find themselves baffled at what they may have to face.
"The surface of the earth crusted, a thin hard crust..."
"In the water-cut gullies the earth dusted down in dry little streams."
"... the sharp sun struck day after day, the leaves of the young corn became less stiff and erect; they bent in a curve at first, and then, as the central ribs of strength grew weak, each leaf tilted downward.