Ruined Summary & Study Guide

Lynn Nottage
This Study Guide consists of approximately 49 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Ruined.
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Ruined Summary & Study Guide Description

Ruined Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Ruined by Lynn Nottage.

On one of her usually busy days running her bar / brothel, Mama Nadi is visited by Christian, a regular customer who also serves as a go-between for Mama and merchants who supply her with cigarettes, rare luxuries like lipstick and chocolate, and one of the tools of Mama’s trade – girls who, for various reasons, are forced to enter a life of prostitution. As Christian flirts with Mama, continuing an ongoing conversation about starting a new life with her, he convinces her to accept two new girls: the sturdy Salima and the more ethereally beautiful Sophie, both of whom, Christian says, were assaulted by men. He also confesses that Sophie is his niece, and that she has been “ruined” (i.e. her reproductive organs have essentially been destroyed as the result of having suffered frequent, extreme sexual violence). In spite of her reluctance to take on another girl that she has to take care of, Mama accepts Sophie into her home.

As time passes, Mama’s bar is visited by leaders of both the government army and the rebels. She makes sure to keep them both happy so that she can retain their business and also prevent them from attacking her. She is also visited by Mr. Harari, a diamond trader who tells her that a stone she is keeping for a rebel fighter is, in fact, a raw diamond worth a significant amount of money. Mama Nadi keeps it in her lockbox, along with a document she took from Sophie that outlines the details of an operation that can restore her fertility. There are also further visits from Christian, from Fortune (a soldier from the government and Salima’s husband), and from a succession of drunken, sexually aggressive soldiers from both armies.

When they’re not being forced by Mama to entertain soldiers, Sophie and Salima develop a friendly rivalry (or a rivalrous friendship) with Josephine, another of Mama’s “girls”. Salima reveals that she’s expecting the baby of one of the soldiers that raped her, and begs the others to not tell Mama. She also refuses to see Fortune. Meanwhile, Josephine tries to decide whether to set up a home with Mr. Harari in the city; and Sophie refuses, more than Mama thinks she should, to entertain the men that come into the bar.

As the conflict comes closer and closer to Mama’s bar, Christian’s alcoholism resurfaces; Sophie’s rebelliousness gets her in more trouble with Mama; and the leaders of the two rival factions come closer and closer to actually meeting. At one point, fed up with waiting for Mama to let him see Salima, Fortune tells the leader of the government army that the leader of the rebels was recently seen in Mama’s bar. When the government leader confronts her, Mama convinces him to not do anything, handing the violently protesting Sophie over to him.

With the conflict within hours of arriving at Mama’s door, Mr. Harari makes plans to leave. Mama tells him to take Sophie with him, giving him her raw diamond to pay for the operation to restore Sophie’s fertility. The truck taking Harari away leaves before Sophie can join him, and she is still there as Mama’s bar gets caught in the crossfire between the rival factions. The battle is stopped when Salima appears, apparently having killed the baby she is carrying and telling the combatants that they will not use her body as their battleground anymore. She dies in the arms of her husband.

In the aftermath of the battle and of Salima’s death, Mama is rebuilding her business when she is once again visited by Christian, once again sober and once again trying to convince her to share a life with him. Mama again tries to resist, eventually confessing that she too is ruined. Christian comforts her as she cries, telling her he wants to settle down and help her run the bar. While she doesn’t exactly agree to his suggestion, she doesn’t say no … and, as the play closes, dances with him.

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This section contains 687 words
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