Is Ruined a play of love?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one can make a case that Ruined is a play about love.  Each of the characters displays a love of life that the current warfighting conditions in the Congo makes difficult.  None of the characters have surrendered their love of living, even though wartime atrocities have done their best to see to it that they do.  From this, there is a love that binds different characters.  For example, Salima demonstrates a love she has for her past and her own sense of identity.  While she has seen some of the worst that human beings can display to another, she does not surrender her love of herself and her own identity.  When she demands “You will not fight your battles on my body anymore," it is an act of love repudiating the forces around her.  Mama demonstrates a similar love for her past.  With tender melancholy, she fights the belief that she herself is "ruined" through what financial deceit and cruelty have done to her.  She seeks to work and prosper in the need to maintain the love she has for her past, something that is hidden deep within her.  Certainly, Mama and Christian share some level of love.  The ending in which they are dancing with one another is a reminder that love can dominate over conditions that might threaten it.  One can even argue that within the brothel, the women demonstrate a love and solidarity towards one another that prevents them from being "ruined."  It is love that binds them and love that ensures they are able to persevere the brutal conditions of war.  The experience of women is unique, as seen with the narratives offered.  Yet, love for one another in the form of support, solidarity, and nurturing in a world that denies these aspects is where the women emerge as not being "ruined."