Chapter 1: The Clouds Did Not Stop

The Dust Bowl

Steinbeck’s description of the drought in rural Oklahoma reminds me of the fragile equilibrium of environment and of the implacable power of nature. The drought, paired with a misuse of the agricultural land has created extreme conditions for people who rely solely on farming. While reading the vivid description of the dry spell, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed by an uneasy sense of helplessness. In a society where people are known to thrive to answer questions such as “what can we do about it” or “how can we fix it”, Steinbeck describes men sitting still-thinking-figuring, but not breaking yet. And I wonder how Oklahoma’s farmers have been able to handle these extremes, for so long, left on their own.

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Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 6:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. The part that stuck out to me is that the women based their anxieties and level of fear on the men in their lives. As long as the men didn’t break, they felt safe. If the men had fallen apart, the women and children would then essentially have permission to follow suit. I’m not sure how I feel about the placement of men as their emotional foundation, but it’s interesting to think about that in terms of a family environment. When one person falls apart, others tend to as well.


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