A gentle wind followed the rain clouds, driving them on northward, a wind that softly clashed the drying corn. A day went by and the wind increased, steady, unbroken by gusts. The dust from the roads fluffed up and spread out and fell on the weeds beside the fields, and fell into the fields a little way. Now the wind grew strong and hard and it worked at the rain crust in the corn fields. Little by little the sky was darkened by the mixing dust, and the wind felt over the earth, loosened the dust, and carried it away. The wind grew stronger. The rain crust broke and the dust lifted up out of the fields and drove gray plumes into the air like sluggish smoke. The corn threshed the wind and made a dry, rushing sound. The finest dust did not settle back to earth now, but disappeared into the darkening sky.

– John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 1. This passage describes how the wind takes up the dust and and spreads it across the land of Oklahoma. Steinbeck’s rich descriptive powers manage to immerse completely the reader in the devastation of the Dust Bowl. Personification makes the scene more vivid by inviting us to imagine the wind as a living being wreaking havoc on the earth. Color imagery describing the "gray plumes" of dust and the darkening sky paint a picture of natural ruin and diminishing hope.