The Grapes of Wrath Metaphors and Similes Quotes

In the middle of that night the wind passed on and left the land quiet. The dust-filled air muffled sound more completely than fog does. The people, lying in their beds, heard the wind stop. They awakened when the rushing wind was gone. They lay quietly and listened deep into the stillness. Then the roosters crowed, and their voices were muffled, and the people stirred restlessly in their beds and wanted the morning. They knew it would take a long time for the dust to settle out of the air. In the morning the dust hung like fog, and the sun was as red as ripe new blood. All day the dust sifted down from the sky, and the next day it sifted down. An even blanket covered the earth. It settled on the corn, piled up on the tops of the fence posts, piled up on the wires; it settled on roofs, blanketed the weeds and trees.

– John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 1. Steinbeck uses the first of the interchapters, which are inserted between the narrative chapters, to paint a picture of what daily life is like for people in the Dust Bowl. It is only when the wind dies down and the people emerge from their homes that they see the new world the dust has created. The opening chapter describes the day after a disastrous dust storm. A simile compares the dust to a fog hanging in the air in the morning. As the day wears on it slowly settles down from the sky to cover the earth and everything on it. Steinbeck employs a metaphor to describe the ubiquitous dust as a blanket covering the plant life. Color imagery and simile are employed to compare the red sun to fresh new blood. There is nothing comforting about that dust blanket or blood red sun, its color signaling danger and death. The reference to "ripe new blood" speaks of change, but certainly not for the better. The chapter’s tone is sombre, eerie and understated. Yet Steinbeck’s language gives us a sense of the farmers’ anxiety about the dust storms that attack their crops and will lead to them losing their family farms. They "stirred restlessly," the voices of the roosters are "muffled," the people know it will take "a long time for the dust to settle" – just like their altered lives.
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