In The Worst Hard Time, what does "It" refer to in the following quote?
"On those days when the wind stops blowing across the face of the southern plains, the land falls into a silence that scares people... it scares them because the land is too much, too empty, claustrophobic in its immensity."
This quote is the first part of the introductory paragraph. It uses descriptive language to speak about the feeling of the Dust Bowl land, and how it makes people feel uneasy. In this quote, the word "it" refers to the silence that fall across the land after the wind stops blowing:
On those days when the wind stops blowing across the face of the southern plains, the land falls into a silence that scares people... it scares them because the land is too much, too empty, claustrophobic in its immensity.
(Egan, The Worst Hard Time, Google Books)
The silence is partially due to the lack of people, but more importantly, as the introduction continues, it is due to the immensity of the Great Plains and Praries that were devestated by the Dust Bowl. This is symbolism in that neither the land itself or the silence are what is "scary." Instead, people are intimidated by the sheer size of the land, the memories and stories of what happened there, and their knowledge of how fragile life is in comparison. The "it" is the shock of realizing that the land will remain, dry or fertile, without any consideration for anything else. People passing through in "cars named Expedition and Outlander" feel out of place, unwelcome in a land that is not made for cars but for farming and animals. However, humans destroyed the land, making it unwelcome for anything. This is what scares people; they simply feel as if they do not belong there.