We all remember the "Wizard of Oz" motif in "Into the Mystic"... but few realized that "The Guardian" contains a similar set of homages to a Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1970) is the story of Tillie, a brilliant young girl being raised by her widowed mother. Shy and friendless, she buries her troubled life in scientific experiments. The broad similarities are there... but as with "Mystic," Tormé slips in some specific homages to make the link clear.
Here's how Marigolds begins:
|He told me to look at my hand, for a part of it came from a star that exploded too long ago to imagine. This part of me was formed from a tongue of fire that screamed through the heavens until there was our sun. And this part of me -- this tiny part of me -- was on the sun when it itself exploded and whirled in a great storm until the planets came to be.|
Lights start in.
And this small part of me was then a whisper of the earth. When there was life, perhaps this part of me got lost in a fern that was crushed and covered until it was coal. And then it was a diamond millions of years later -- it must have been a diamond as beautiful as the star from which it had first come.
|TILLIE:||Taking over from recorded voice.|
Or perhaps this part of me became lost in a terrible beast, or became part of a huge bird that flew about the primeval swamps.
And he said this thing was so small -- this part of me was so small it couldn't be seen -- but it was there from the beginning of the world.
And he called this bit of me an atom. And when he wrote the word, I fell in love with it.
What a beautiful word.
For comparison, here's the stardust sequence from "Guardian" (which MSZ would resurrect for "World Killer"):
|My dad used to take me stargazing. He bought me a telescope on my eighth birthday. We used to go to a mountain top. He'd tell me where to find Orion's Belt, Altair and Ursa Major.|
|QUINN:||Did you know we're all made from stardust? You... me... your father... all of us. Our atoms were forged in the stars. Not the stars you see now... nah. The older ones, the ones that went nova and turned into dust. Think about it, Quinn. Our bodies are made from remnants of the ancient suns.|
|Wow... for real?|
|QUINN:||For real. Now of course you can't look to the heavens and actually see your dad... but one day, his physical essence will blow into space. Yours and mine, too. And together... we'll make new stars.|
[ smiles ]
Tell me that isn't cool.
And then, to cement the connection... on page 8, we are first introduced to one of Tillie's teachers:
|BEATRICE:||... Of course, he's not as bad as Miss Hanley. The idea of letting her teach girls' gym is staggering.|
Miss Hanley is mentioned ten additional times in the play, but is never referred to in any other form.
One other connection is surely a coincidence, but too amusing to overlook. Tillie's sister's excuse for leaving Miss Hanley's class:
|RUTH:||You know, I really did think my skull was growing. Either that or a tumor.|
So THAT was Arturo's problem!