Left to Tell

by

Immaculée Ilibagiza

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Left to Tell: Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Immaculée stares at the Tutsi soldier pointing his gun at her and tells God that it is up to Him whether she lives or dies. She begins explaining that French soldiers brought them to the camp, but the soldier tells her to stop speaking and lie on the ground. He cannot believe that so many Tutsis are alive, and insists they must be Hutu spies. Just as Immaculée begins praying for Aloise on the others who she left by the road, she hears someone say her name. It is Bazil, a Hutu neighbor who’d joined the Tutsi rebels. Bazil had been Rose’s favorite student; now, he and Immaculée embrace. Bazil explains to the other soldiers that Immaculée is telling the truth and isn’t a spy. Immediately, the soldiers agree to go and help the friends Immaculée left behind.
Once again, Rose remains present via the people whose lives she touched. The enormous network of people who love and feel indebted to Rose shows how kindness spreads further kindness. This is an important lesson in the midst of so much cruelty and destruction. A single act of kindness is valuable not only in its own right, but also for its potential to stimulate even more kindness, thereby significantly contributing to making the world a better place.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
Immaculée and Bazil immediately begin catching up, and when Bazil asks after Rose, he still calls her “Teacher.” With a heavy heart, Immaculée tells Bazil that her family, along with almost every Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Mataba, are all dead. Bazil’s own parents, four brothers, and three sisters are dead, and in this moment he breaks down in tears. When Aloise is safely brought to the camp, she tells Immaculée to keep saying the prayers she has been saying, because they worked to miraculously save the group from the Interahamwe. Aloise embraces her two children and announces that they have survived the genocide. She thanks God, as does Immaculée.
The story of Bazil shows the enormous sacrifice made by Hutus who chose to support and defend Tutsis. Bazil may be Hutu, but his family were slaughtered just as many Tutsis were. This makes it less surprising that so many Hutus joined in killing Tutsis. They knew that their own lives and the lives of their families were on the line.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Aloise’s cheerfulness is infectious, and raises the mood at the RPF camp. Immaculée speaks with the leader of the camp, Major Ntwali, who asks if she blames him and other RPF soldiers for the genocide. Immaculée assures him that she doesn’t, and that the evil of the genocide is the work of the devil. She talks about forgiving the killers, but Major Ntwali is not inclined to forgive. He directs her to a Baptist church where other about 100 other survivors are being sheltered. There are no beds or blankets, but Immaculée is happy to be in a house of God.
It is clear by now that Immaculée is unusual in her willingness to forgive. While others around her have also acted in extraordinarily kind and self-sacrificial ways, forgiving the killers is a step too far for most of them. Immaculée is thus once again left alone—this time because she is seemingly the only person around who wants to forgive.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Immaculée tries to cook food for the group but has to stop because she is sickened by a hideous smell. Bazil leads her behind the church and shows her a pile of hundreds of dead bodies piled on top of each other. Next to it is a pit filled with thousands more corpses. Immaculée vomits, reeling from what she has seen. She doesn’t understand how Rwanda will ever heal from this horror. Immaculée decides that in order to help others as God intends for her to do, she will have to leave Rwanda for a while. This can’t happen immediately, however, because she has no job, home, or money—not even any belongings except the clothes she is wearing and Leonard’s rosary.
Immaculée’s financial concerns bring home the fact that even though she has survived the genocide, she must now deal with a far more ordinary yet no less significant form of survival: ensuring that she has a home and enough food to eat. The circumstances around her are so surreal that it would be easy to allow herself to get disorientated, but she remains steadfastly focused on the future.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
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Immaculée and the others want to leave the camp for Aloise’s house in Kigali, but at first there seems no way to make this happen. However, Major Ntwali then offers to drive the whole group “right to Aloise’s front door” and give them enough food to last for months. In Kigali, Major Ntwali warns the group to be careful walking, because there are land mines everywhere. Aloise asks for them to be dropped off at the UN, which is a 15 minute walk from her house. She reasons that if Fari has survived, he will have come to the UN because it is the safest place in Kigali. She prays that he is alive because she doesn’t know what she would do without him.
In the aftermath of genocide, Immaculée finds herself surrounded by more and more acts of goodwill. The kindness of people such as Aloise and Major Ntwali remind her of the good within humanity and provide hope that she may have a bright future after all. On the other hand, it is easy for these acts of kindness to be overwhelmed by the chaos and devastation surrounding her. 
Themes
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Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Happily, the group arrive at the UN to find that Fari is there and alive. He embraces Aloise and his children, but when he asks after their baby Aloise tells him that she died from a fever. The two parents sob together; Immaculée is shocked, as she didn’t even know that Aloise had lost a child. Like his wife, Fari tells Immaculée that she resembles her parents, and reiterates Aloise’s offer for her to live with them.
Out of many strong characters in the book, Aloise appears to be the strongest by far—apart from Immaculée. The examples set by these women demonstrate that hope, courage, and happiness are possible even under the very worst circumstances.
Themes
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Aloise and Fari’s home has been heavily damaged, but the group works together to repair it and soon it is in a good state again. Immaculée is thrilled to sleep in a real bed for the first time since she fled her parents’ house. Because they don’t have any possessions or money, the group searches abandoned homes, gathering clothes to wear. Immaculée takes a pair of gold earrings as a treat, but balks on seeing her reflection. She thinks of the woman who owns the earrings and feels “like a trespasser in another person’s life.” She returns the earrings to where she found them. At this point she realizes it is time to get a job.
This passage suggests that, in both a literal and metaphorical sense, rebuilding Rwanda will only be possible through cooperation and mutual support. The grueling task of repairing Aloise and Fari’s home, for example, becomes easy and joyous because it is done by a group of refugees together. The group continues to find strength, hope, and inspiration in one another.
Themes
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