What is Beatrice doing physically on pages 53-56 regarding her life?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I of Paul Zindel's play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds the character of Beatrice is seen in her true colors. Beatrice is a divorced mother who lives with her daughters and an aging boarder in modest accommodations. That does not prevent Beatrice from dreaming of a lifestyle that she could only attain by living above her means, and under very different circumstances. 

It is clear that Beatrice does not play the role of the sacrificial mother who goes above and beyond for her daughters. Instead, she enjoys to play the victim by consistently complaining about her conditions, and by whining about the things she would rather be doing. She goes as far as crying to her daughter Ruth, saying during one of her fits

What's left for me?

This is when Beatrice increases the drama and physically decides to get a huge pile of newspapers, claiming that she is going to do a "little cleanup" in the house. She throws down the newspapers making the sound of "a loud thump". Then she goes back inside her room and she is described as going back into her room and

lets fly another armful of junk

Beatrice has had whisky during this time, which is indicative of her potential drunkenness. After all, what else explains her the way in she literally throws things around claiming to be doing a "clean up"? However, it is not only her disparate actions and her self-deprecating words what makes the reader cringe, but her overall treatment of everyone around her: rather than assuming the role that she should as head of household, she drags her misery around and makes everyone partake on it. 

The way in which Beatrice wraps up the situation is with one further act of self-pity by stating 

You see, everybody, I spent today taking stock of my life and I've come up with zero. I added up all the separate departments and the total reads zero....zero, zero, zero, zero...

This is another desperate attempt of Beatrice to manipulate those who live with her by making them feel sorry for her. It is obvious that, even if Beatrice wants a lot from life, she is far from fighting hard to get it. 

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