Left to Tell

by

Immaculée Ilibagiza

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Left to Tell: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The French base camp is guarded by eight armored vehicles and at least 100 guards. The soldiers apologize for the conditions, but compared to life in the bathroom, the camp is positively luxurious. Furthermore, Immaculée enjoys sleeping outside in nature. Sometimes Hutus assemble at the edges of the camp and peer in, but Immaculée always feels safe. The captain of the troops tells Immaculée that he thinks “France has blood on its hands” because many of the Hutu killers received French training prior to the genocide. He offers to kill those who murdered Immaculée’s family, and Immaculée is momentarily tempted. However, she touches Leonard’s rosary and reminds herself that the killers aren’t evil—they have just strayed from God’s path.    
Immaculée’s faith continues to help guide her as she adjusts to a whole new set of extraordinary circumstances. It would be easy for her to become overwhelmed by all the changes, the tragic news of her family’s death, and by her own conflicting emotions—and indeed this is why she is momentarily tempted to accept the captain’s offer of revenge. However, Immaculée’s faith has remained her rock throughout this entire period, and she remains committed to it now.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
The captain disagrees with Immaculée, so she asks God to show him the importance of forgiveness. She is sure that only God’s forgiveness will repair Rwanda after everything that has happened. One day, a man enters the camp claiming to be a genocide survivor, but after interrogation he confesses that he is actually an Interahamwe spy. Immaculée believes the captain orders him to be killed. Immaculée, meanwhile, spends time caring for her aunts. She finds it difficult to be with the women from the bathroom, as the memories evoked by seeing them are so painful. Every day, more Tutsi survivors arrive at the camp. Immaculée hears harrowing stories, but also makes some close friends.   
Again, in this passage hope and sorrow, light and darkness, and good and evil are juxtaposed in an extreme way. Immaculée remains peaceful and calm because of her faith in God and in the importance of forgiveness, but tensions, cruelty, and violence are still rife all around her. Immaculée focuses on being a positive force at the camp, but she acknowledges her limitations, accepting the fact that some things—like spending time with the women from the bathroom—are simply too difficult for her. 
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Related Quotes
One of the survivors, Florence, tells Immaculée that she hid in a chapel with hundreds of other Tutsis, who were then attacked by killers. Florence was struck by a machete and woke up in a truck filled with corpses, squashed between the bodies of her parents and sister. When a killer saw her moving, he stabbed her with a spear. She was then thrown off a cliff along with the corpses. She believes the only reason she survived is because God must have had a special reason to spare her. Immaculée agrees, and tells Florence that she is writing down her story. She says that they have both been “left to tell.”
One might expect that on hearing a story as horrific as Florence’s, Immaculée would try to forget or not think about it. Instead, she records it. This shows that she is beginning to act on the path that she believes God has set in front of her. She and Florence both find comfort and strength in the idea that they were spared for a reason, helping them to keep going and not be overwhelmed by pain. 
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
One of the French soldiers, Pierre, becomes particularly fond of Immaculée. Pierre is kind, and asks if Immaculée has a boyfriend. She tells him the sad story about John, and the two begin spending lots of time together. One day, Pierre confesses his love to her. Immaculée gently tells him that at the moment, she is too sad to be in love; her heart is completely dedicated to God. Pierre tells her he wants to take care of her, but Immaculée insists that the timing is wrong. Pierre sadly accepts this, kisses Immaculée, and leaves.
Although Pierre’s love appears to be well-intentioned and genuine, there is something disturbing about the fact that he falls in love with Immaculée when she is at such an extremely vulnerable point in her life. Not only is she wracked by grief and trauma, but she is physically weak as a result of her months in the bathroom. Pierre’s love therefore cannot help but seem somewhat predatory.
Themes
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Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
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Immaculée is desperate to talk to Aimable, who is still in Senegal. By the end of July, the war is still continuing in the east and south of Rwanda. There are now almost 150 Tutsi survivors at the camp. Some have lost limbs and have badly infected wounds, and others have gone mad from grief and horror. Immaculée is heartbroken by the number of orphans, many of whom have witnessed their parents be murdered. She speaks to two young brothers who are too young to understand that their parents are not coming back. Immaculée is devastated to realize that most of their relatives are likely dead. She promises herself that one day, she will help the children orphaned by the genocide.
Immaculée also finds strength in remembering that, despite everything she has gone through, she is still in a far better position than the children who have been left orphaned by the genocide, and has a duty to care for these children. Rather than being a burden, the ability to care gives Immaculée a sense of purpose and meaning, thereby strengthening and empowering her.
Themes
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
By August, the camp is too full, so a new, indoor camp is established in Kibuye town. Immaculée ensures that the young orphans, as well as her family members, are taken to the new camp, but she stays behind along with about 30 other refugees to serve as a translator. A woman in a wheelchair with a loud laugh arrives, and Immaculée soon learns that she is Aloise, who is something of a celebrity in the local area. Aloise had polio as a child, but excelled in school. She developed an enormous social and professional network and bought a Hutu identity card years back in order to be able to do work for the government. 
Aloise overcame great adversity before the genocide even began, and Immaculée’s description of her life remind readers that the lessons Immaculée learned during the genocide apply in other situations as well. Immaculée survived through a combination of resilience, hard work, and study, and this was how Aloise managed to thrive, as well. 
Themes
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Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
Aloise recognizes Immaculée immediately because of her resemblance to her parents, and begins to cry as she recalls her close friendship with Leonard and Rose. Aloise says that Rose “saved” her by paying for her school fees when her parents were too poor to do so. She calls Rose “a saint.” She then says that she believes Rose’s spirit brought her there in order to pay the debt she owes to Immaculée’s family. Aloise admitted that, though she was “legally” Hutu, her husband and children were Tutsi. She and the children fled Kigali during the genocide, leaving her husband, Fari, hiding in the ceiling of their house. She tells Immaculée that once the fighting is over, she will take her back to Kigali to live with her as a daughter. 
Immaculée’s family may be dead, but they still have a strong presence in the story. Damascene “speaks” to Immaculée through the letter and “touches” her through his teardrops. Rose, meanwhile, continues to protect and support Immaculée through the ongoing effects of her acts of kindness. In this sense, Immaculée’s family truly do live through all those who they knew, loved, and helped.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
Immaculée thanks Aloise, but does not completely trust her. She says that she has grown close to people in the camp and doesn’t want to leave them. Aloise laughs and offers to welcome all nine of them to her home, as well. After thinking it over, Immaculée returns to Aloise the next day and agrees. Aloise jokes that she is doing it for Rose, not for Immaculée.
After so many months of hardship and tragedy, it is perhaps unsurprising that Immaculée finds it difficult to trust Aloise’s act of absolute kindness and generosity. However, regaining this ability to trust is an important part of rebuilding her life.
Themes
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon