Imagine a man who unexpectedly inherits a large, shiny pickup truck with a full tank of gas. It’s an antique model, but he can see that it was purchased from a dealership, driven straight home and then just parked for many years. He drives it around at breakneck speeds, accomplishes many things with it and makes plans to accomplish many more. But within a few days the truck’s enormous fuel tank is empty. When the man tries to fill it up, he’s shocked to learn that on that particular model, the fuel tank can only be filled up with a tiny eyedropper—a task that would take years to complete. So much for his plans.
The man represents the people of the United States. The truck symbolizes the stretch of American land known as the Great Plains. And the fuel tank is the Ogallala Aquifer that lies beneath that land.