by Lynn Nottage

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Where is the climax in Lynn Nottage's play Ruined?

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The climax of the play takes place when the government soldiers storm the bar, believing that the rebels are hiding there. Throughout the play, Mama and the people at the bar have played a dangerous game of trying to continue working safely during the war.

Salima has been avoiding speaking to the husband who shunned her after her rape. He's been outside the bar hoping for the chance to speak to her. However, when he is turned away too often, he goes to the leader of the government troops and tells them that the rebels have been at the bar. The soldiers are about to rape Josephine when Salima stops them by entering the room with blood on her body.

In her attempt to get rid of the baby conceived through rape, she did internal damage to herself. She is near death. However, she lets them know that they can't fight their wars on her body anymore. She dies with her husband, the soldiers, Mama, and the others around her.

This is the climax of the play because it's the moment when all the aspects of the story come into conflict with each other. It's the big, shocking moment of the play. The question of whether Salima and her husband will speak, what will happen to the baby, whether Sophie will get her surgery, and the issues with the government and the rebels are all solved at once. After it's over, it's only the falling action and the resolution of what happened with Christian, Mama, and the others.

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The climax of the play takes place at the end of act 2, scene 6 of Ruined. At this point in the play, Salima dies from an injury that Mama Nadi suggests is self-inflicted. If Mama Nadi is right, then Salima's death by her self-inflicted injury is a powerful example to the audience of what can happen when rape is used as a weapon of war.

Earlier in the play, the suspense builds as Salima tries to hide evidence of her pregnancy, covering her changing body with clothing and eating food in secret. Salima's pregnancy has become a constant reminder to Salima of the abuse she endured before coming to Mama Nadi's bar. During this time, she was imprisoned and raped by soldiers for five months, and one of these soldiers is the father of her unborn child.

At this moment of climax in the play, Mama Nadi's suggestion that Salima has hurt herself implies that Salima has taken control of a situation that has been out of her control for a long time. Though Salima's final gesture of agency results in her death and in the death of the unborn baby, it is not completely futile. Salima displays her strength by refusing to live in constant fear of abusive men who seek to control women with violence.

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The climax of the play—the moment of the greatest tension—takes place during the confrontation between Commander Osembenga (and his men) and Mama Nadi (and the women who work for her). Osembenga has heard that the rebel leader, Jerome Kisembe, has been seen at Mama Nadi's, and he demands information. The stage directions help to establish the climactic mood:

The stage is flooded with intense light. The sound of chaos, shouting, gunfire, grows with intensity. Government Soldiers pour in. A siege. A white hot flash. The generator blows!

Fortune, Salima's husband, is yelling and accusing Mama Nadi of being "the devil," a witch who has "enchanted" his wife. Osembenga is shouting. There is "Chaos" as the soldiers find Mama's lock box and steal all of her money. All of the women are thrown to the floor, and the men threaten to violate them sexually unless Mama gives them the information they want. Then, it seems as though Salima may have done some violence to herself in order to get rid of the baby; she'd been impregnated by one of the soldiers that raped her. Mama frantically asks Salima, "What did you do?!" implying that Salima has done herself harm. In this sense, then, she has reclaimed her own body by refusing to allow the men around her to use it as a weapon against her. Newly empowered, she dies.

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The climax of the play Ruined occurs after Fortune comes to Mama's establishment for the first time looking for Salima. Later, Commander Osembenga storms Mama's place trying to find Kisembe. He comes a second time still looking for Kisembe and in an impatient rage throws Mama, Josephine, and Sophie to the floor. The women fall under attack from the men but Salima enters the room in a terrible condition while screaming for the men to stop the violence, a violence that ruined her own life.

While Mama is expecting to be needed in Salima's childbirth, Salima dies, free at last from having her body be the battleground for the men's violence. This is the climax. Afterward, regular routines reemerge as Christian again asks Mama to join her life with his. The falling action occurs in Christian and Mama's dancing and the resolution of the play is established.

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