Ruined is a complex play concerning some very complex characters. Interpersonal conflicts between Mama Nadi's three girls and other characters are set against a backdrop of conflict between the warring groups of soldiers. The main conflict, however, is the internal conflict in the character of Mama Nadi, the protagonist and the character whom the audience knows best by the end of the play.
Mama Nadi presents a complicated character to her customers and to her girls. Sometimes, she is flirtatious and playful, and other times, she is fiercely protective of her bar and violent in her domination. Mama Nadi exhibits both shocking ruthlessness and unexpected compassion at different moments throughout the play, depending on how willing she is at any given moment to feel the emotions that bubble up inside of her. Her passion is her business, which means that she refuses to take sides even as the war between Osembenga's men and Kisembe's rebels creeps inside her bar and into her relationships.
At the end of the play, when Christian asks Mama Nadi to explain why she resists him and the possibility of love, she says that she herself is "ruined." This admission suggests that she herself has been brutally raped and injured, rendering her physically incapable of love. This revelation explains Mama Nadi's complicated persona; the trauma of her injury and other life experiences make her a survivor, but one who sometimes survives at the expense of other people.