Left to Tell

by

Immaculée Ilibagiza

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Left to Tell: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back in Kigali, Immaculée is still tormented by nightmares and sadness. One night, she has a dream that she is in a helicopter flying over her parents’ house. She sees her family members standing in the sky. Damascene is smiling, and tells her that she has been sad for too long and promises her that they are all happy. Immaculée joyously promises him that when God decides it is time, she will come join them in heaven. Her family slowly disappears, and Immaculée remains flying freely above Rwanda. Immaculée is so happy that she begins singing a song in Kinyarwanda. The lyrics mean: “Thank You, God, for love that is beyond our understanding.” 
This passage adds another dimension to the symbolism of birds and helicopters. These symbols are not only important because they connote freedom, but also because they represent nearness to heaven. Immaculée is greatly comforted by the knowledge that her family is in heaven and that she will return to them someday. She knows that she is not alone, and this gives her freedom to pursue a life of happiness and service while she is still on Earth.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Following this night, Immaculée’s pain eases, even as she continues to desperately miss her family. She feels assured that her family is at peace, and she realizes that she must return to Mataba. Once again, Colonel Gueye accompanies her. Aunt Jeanne tells Immaculée that she is buying a gun so she will be ready “next time,” which makes Immaculée’s heart heavy. Immaculée kneels by Rose and Damascene’s graves and tells them about her new life in Kigali, crying tears of relief.  
Again, it is sometimes easier for Immaculée to communicate with her family than with those around her. While Immaculée and the other survivors’ lives were spared, there is a sense in which her family was “saved,” as they were able to return to God and avoid confronting the horrors of the genocide and its aftermath.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
A friend of Leonard’s named Semana, who is “like an uncle” to Immaculée, is now the regional mayor in charge of Kibuye. He is responsible for arresting the killers, and knows better than anyone who committed the murders in the area. At the prison, he asks Immaculée if she wants to meet the leader of the gang who killed Rose and Damascene, and Immaculée replies that she does. The murderer, Felicien, was a successful Hutu businessman. Immaculée had been friends with his children and remembered him as elegant, handsome, and charming.
Felicien’s backstory challenges the usual reasons people have for forgiving those who commit crimes. Often, people will point to the fact that criminals were impoverished, disempowered, and traumatized themselves—yet Felicien was privileged, wealthy, and charming. In this sense, he is an especially difficult figure to forgive.
Themes
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
In the prison cell, Semana demands that Felicien explain to Immaculée why he killed her mother and brother. Felicien is bent over, wearing tattered clothing and barely recognizable. He is too ashamed to meet Immaculée’s gaze, and she feels a deep sense of pity for him. He begins to cry, and Immaculée touches his hands. Looking him in the eye, she tells him that she forgives him. This astonishes and infuriates Semana, who asks Immaculée how she could have forgiven him. Immaculée replies: “Forgiveness is all I have to offer.”
Immaculée does a remarkable job in truly making Felicien appear pitiful. She reveals that she does not need to add to his suffering, as he is already in so much pain. Trying to make him suffer more would be pointless; it would not make her parents come back or make herself feel any better. Instead, she wants to love and support Felicien like all people, and the only way she can do that is by forgiving him.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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