And as 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. Then it was June, and the sun shone more fiercely. The brown lines on the corn leaves widened and moved in on the central ribs.

– John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 1. The opening chapter pitches us right into the drought in Oklahoma with its devastating effects on its agriculture. With the sharp summer sun striking daily, weakening and then withering the corn, Steinbeck’s language helps us visualize the farmers watching helplessly and hopelessly as their livelihoods die in front of their eyes. The harsh future facing families is also foreshadowed here.