In the last part of May the sky grew pale and the clouds that had hung in high puffs for so long in the spring were dissipated. The sun flared down on the growing corn day after day until a line of brown spread along the edge of each green bayonet. The clouds appeared, and went away, and in a while they did not try any more. The weeds grew darker green to protect themselves, and they did not spread any more. The surface of the earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and as the sky became pale, so the earth became pale, pink in the red country and white in the gray country.

– John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 1. Here Steinbeck plays the role of an artist painting a picture of the devastation caused to the land and crops by the drought. He uses detailed imagery and dark, descriptive language to express a sense of hopelessness and a land at war with natural events. The ears of corn are "green bayonets," clouds give up trying to appear as the sky grows paler, distressed weeds try to "protect themselves." Steinbeck uses personification to give human characteristics to lifeless objects like the clouds and weeds. Color imagery conveys how the life’s blood is draining the Oklahoma earth, as it crusts and turns pale, the red country now pink and the gray country white. It’s as if the land, the other central character after the Joad family, is dying a slow death.