Left to Tell

by

Immaculée Ilibagiza

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Left to Tell: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Immaculée retreats into prayer, and this becomes her sanctuary in the bathroom. She spends hours at a time thinking about the meaning of a single word such as “forgiveness” or “hope.” By the end of the first month that the women spend in the bathroom, Pastor Murinzi’s patience appears to be running out. He accuses Leonard of being “a very bad Tutsi,” saying that he was helping the RPF to plan. civil war. He then tells the other women that if they are killed, it will be because Immaculée is there. The pastor adds that the killers found 600 guns, grenades, and a death list of Hutu names in Immaculée’s house. He says that the massacre of Tutsis was indeed self-defense, because otherwise Tutsis would have murdered Hutus.
While Pastor Murinzi is certainly an ambiguous figure, his willingness to believe propaganda about Leonard is still rather stunning. Given Leonard’s reputation as a “saint” in the community, how could it be that he was secretly planning to massacre Hutus the whole time? Perhaps Pastor Murinzi’s willingness to believe this myth is evidence that the genocide has warped the pastor’s reasoning and led him to want to believe that Leonard and other Tutsis are guilty, because the reality is too awful to bear.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Immaculée is in disbelief that Pastor Murinzi has been duped by the government’s propaganda campaigns. In the back of her mind, Immaculée believes that the lies about her father probably mean that he is dead. However, she suppresses the thought. Eventually, she cannot help but cry out in protest. She asks why, if her father had so many weapons, would he not have used them against the killers who attacked his house? Everyone in the bathroom is astonished that Immaculée stood up to Pastor Murinzi. The pastor meekly continues to recite the “evidence” criminalizing Leonard, but it is clear he is embarrassed and realizes that he is wrong.
The knowledge that her father is likely dead emboldens Immaculée with a rather reckless sense of courage and determination. Perhaps confronting the reality that Leonard might be dead helps Immaculée to accept her own death. In multiple ways, Immaculée’s view of her father pivots very quickly in this moment: she sees him as vulnerable, and in doing so decides she must make a stand and demand that he be respected. 
Themes
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Before Pastor Murinzi leaves, Immaculée asks if she can borrow a Bible, and he agrees. Immaculée worries that the pastor’s outburst means that he thinks the women will die soon, because Rwandans are normally private about their emotions. Later, Immaculée hears on the radio that more Tutsis have been killed in her own province, Kibuye, than anywhere else. The president expresses his pride over this fact, and explains that he is sending money to buy food and beer so the killers can celebrate. After, Immaculée hears Janet standing outside and saying that she is a liar. Janet adds that she doesn’t care if Immaculée is killed. To make matters worse, Immaculée then hears on the radio that over 500 Tutsis and “their Hutu traitor” friends have been killed at her university.
Everything that Immaculée once treasured—her hometown, her family, her friends, her education—has disappeared from sight. To make matters worse, she then hears news of these things being gruesomely destroyed. The fact that she requests a Bible from Pastor Murinzi, however, reminds us that she still has God to turn to. No matter what she loses, nobody can take her faith away from her. And in the midst of all this terrible destruction, Immaculée’s request for a Bible indicates that she has not yet given up hope.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
Immaculée begins to pray, but is interrupted by the sound of another woman’s voice. It is a kind, elderly woman Immaculée knows named Sony, whose husband was killed in the massacre of 1973. Sony begs Pastor Murinzi to let her in, but he tells her he cannot hide Tutsis and shuts the door. Immaculée knows that Sony now faces certain death and prays for God to receive her soul in heaven. Pastor Murinzi opens the bathroom door and gives Immaculée a Bible. She immediately reads Psalm 91, which ends: “Though a thousand fall at my side, though ten thousand are dying around me, the evil will not touch me.”
When Immaculée hears Sony begging for her life and being turned away, there is an extra layer of guilt involved. Although she cannot know for sure how he would behave otherwise, the pastor’s coldness to other Tutsis is necessitated by the fact that he is hiding Immaculée and the other women. While Immaculée may not be responsible for Sony’s death, she’s clearly aware that her own survival comes at a terrible price.  
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
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