What characters in Ruined are dynamic?

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

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One of the most dynamic characters is Mama Nadi.  She is dynamic because she experiences a defining change as a result of all that she has seen in her life and in the development of the narrative plot.  As the drama unfolds, it is evident that Mama Nadi is the force that binds: she holds everything and nearly everyone intact.  In a world where there is so much social, political, and psychological fragmentation, Mama Nadi represents a cohesive force.  She runs her brothel/bar with the strictest of focus, and she carries herself in a controlled manner that the world around her lacks.

The dynamic element of her characterization emerges at the end of the narrative.  When Christian leaves after he reads her response to his advances, something in her breaks. Her declaration--“I’m ruined. I’m ruined."--is one of the most important moments in the drama.  It speaks to how "ruined" is the most appropriate descriptor in articulating the world in which she lives.  It is a statement that women who are subject to violations of their space and freedom, what Salima states in her declaration of “You will not fight your battles on my body anymore," are forever scarred.  When Mama states this, the audience grasps her dynamic nature.  We no longer see the singular focus that has defined her.  Rather, we see someone struggling to make sense of that which is impossible to categorize and explain.  Her dancing at the end is a statement of how much she has changed.  It reflects her dynamic condition, an ending that emphasizes how survival is a form of resistance.  While the women in the drama might not have chosen the life they were forced to lead, they can make a choice in how they progress from that point.  Mama's choice to reluctantly and then passionately dance in Christian's embrace reflects how far she has come in her own journey.  It also serves to explain how much more she can progress despite what has happened to her.

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