by Lynn Nottage

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What aspects of Sophie and Salima's relationship in Ruined help them cope with sexual abuse?

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In Ruined, Sophie and Salima are equals in many ways. Both have recently begun to work at Mama’s brothel, and they keep each other’s secrets, but Salima is often protective of Sophie. In certain respects, Salima acts as a mother figure to Sophie, trying to shield her from further physical harm and supporting her goal of saving money for surgery. Because Salima lost her own baby, she takes on a maternal role. Sophie, in turn, values having a trusted friend as she develops her plan to steal enough money for the surgery.

Sophie is more closely connected to the brothel through being Christian’s niece, but the relationship offers no real protection. When she learns of the harsh treatment that Fortune, Salima’s husband, subjected her to, as well as her pregnancy through rape, Sophie’s empathy for Salima leads her to invite the other woman to join her escape plan. By the play’s end, the women have grown so close that Salima sacrifices herself to save her friend.

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