The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
This touching drama about childhood introduced us to three memorable characters: Beatrice, struggling to bring up her two daughters by herself, slowly losing touch with the world around her and forced to take in elderly boarders to make ends meet.
Then there is her daughter, Ruth, a pretty, but nervous girl subject to convulsions. Her younger daughter, Matilda (Tillie), plain and shy, has an intuitive gift for science. Encouraged by her teacher, Tillie undertakes a gamma ray experiment with marigolds which wins her a prize at her high school. Beatrice is unable to accept Tillie's success - and this inability to deal with it brings on the shattering climax of the play.
And yet, as Tillie's experiment shows, something beautiful and full of promise can emerge from even the most barren, afflicted soil.
This is the timeless lesson of the play and the root of its moving power and truth.