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Th331g Ruined by Lynn Nottage

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Arien Memory

TH331G A1

Ruined

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        Upon reading Ruined by Lynn Nottage, I was taken back by the plot of the play and the graphic nature of sexual exploitation of young women. Sadly, this play is telling a tale of what is happening in African countries. To me the theme of the play speaks of a woman being sexually violated that she is, in her eyes or the eyes of her loved ones, ruined from ever being able to be married off to a man. In this play, the women are the victims with different experiences that has caused their ruin. Yet, an ironic twist for these victims of rape is that they find a haven living with Mama Nadi, who owns a brothel. These women who have been raped savagely are prostituting themselves in exchange for food, shelter and clothing.

        The sad reality is that these women could not go home to their families after their rape and months of torture. They were shamed by their families, due to the dishonor brought upon them. This dishonor was due to the soldiers, gang raping young females in the Congo for months on end until they grew tired of her. The man of the home and family name was tarnished. This speaks true to the testimony of Salima who was violently raped and dragged into the Congo, chained to a tree and forced to be every soldiers sex slave. After five grueling months in the Congo, she was released to return to her family. Upon her arrival, her husband told her she brought dishonor to him, her family turned away from her. Her husband, Fortune, chased her away, beating her with a green switch.

        No woman is free from being ruined. This speaks true of the case of Josephine. Her father was the village chief. She was raped by the soldiers when her village was raided. Even her position would not protect her from such violence and savagery. This ruin has caused her to be less sympathetic to Sophie who is younger than she is. She offers little emotional support to Sophie, Salima and the other girls in the brothel.

        Despite being ruined, the women in this play find their haven within the brothel. The male characters within this play have earned the trust of these women. Even though these women have been raped and tortured, their solace is having shelter and food as oppose to living out in the bush. They realize that their lives are safer in the conditions that Mama Nadi offers than the fear of what soldiers will do to them without a controlled environment.

        Things are not always as they appear is something I took away from reading this play. Mama’s character came across as being a little sympathetic to Sophie’s condition when she met her inquiring of how badly the soldiers hurt her. Her gesture of offering her something to drink to numb the pain made one consider that Mama’s character was putting on a front of being a strong woman. The reality: Mama was ruined also. Despite being ruined, Mama overcame her internal conflict and developed her own business and would stand up to the soldiers by forcing them to disarm their weapons and asking to see their money before serving them. Not many females would be able to stand up for themselves after being forced to partake in horrific acts of violence, but Mama did.

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