Left to Tell

by

Immaculée Ilibagiza

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Left to Tell can help.

Left to Tell: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Pastor Murinzi lives in a large, lavish, European-style house. He greets Immaculée with a smile; he is a close friend of her family, and also John’s uncle. Immaculée once heard her aunt say that the pastor “resented” Leonard’s good actions, but he has always been kind to Immaculée. Pastor Murinzi takes Immaculée and Augustine into his living room, where guests are gathered. Among them is Buhoro, and when Immaculée sees him she smiles. However, he turns away in disgust, and Immaculée realizes that he is a Hutu extremist. Immaculée then sees Janet, her friend from primary school. However, to Immaculée’s horror Janet also pushes her away.
Immaculée has known the people she encounters in this scene for years, but the genocide has transformed Mataba into an entirely new place in which a whole different set of social norms apply. Not only is it acceptable to treat Tutsis rudely, but this is expected and encouraged, viewed as evidence of being “a good Hutu.”
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Pastor Murinzi’s youngest son, Lechim, is another of Immaculée’s close friends from primary school, and was the first boy she ever kissed. Now, he comforts and reassures her, telling her that she can stay in his sister’s room. Lechim’s mother was Tutsi, although she died a few years earlier. Augustine starts crying. He is Hutu but looks Tutsi, and he overheard people in the living room saying he is a spy for the RPF. Immaculée assures him that he is not going to die, although she is not convinced of this herself.
Pastor Murinzi’s marriage to a Tutsi woman and Augustine’s ethnically ambiguous physical appearance highlight how flimsy the categories of “Tutsi” and “Hutu” really are. Yet while there may be very little substantial difference between the tribes, the distinction has quickly turned into a matter of life or death.
Themes
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Immaculée lies down in Dusenge’s room and thinks about the events of the past few days. Before long, Damascene rushes in to tell her that the killers have burned down their family home. Leonard has gone to Kabayi for help even though Kabayi tried to starve him in prison. Leonard was able to return home accompanied by soldiers, but the soldiers then summoned the killers, who attacked the crowd of Tutsis who’d been camped out around the house. The killers burned down the house, and Leonard and Rose escaped on the motorcycle. Damascene cries out that they are now trapped, and he angrily asks Immaculée why she kept assuring them that everything was going to be ok.
Everything is so chaotic at this point that there is no chance of relying on reason, intelligence, foresight, or planning in order to ensure survival. All these measures are meaningless in the face of the sudden, unpredictable horror that has descended on Rwanda. Even Immaculée’s incredibly close-knit family has been wrenched apart and flung into many different directions. There is an extent to which Immaculée has already been left alone, with only herself and God to rely on.
Themes
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Immaculée decides that she cannot give up hope and promises Damascene that they will survive. Damascene tells her to stay with Augustine and not to leave the house under any circumstances. Damascene decides to stay with a Hutu friend who lives nearby. As it comes time for Immaculée and Damascene to say goodbye, she is so sad she can barely look at him. When she holds his hands, they feel like the hands of “a disappearing soul.” Damascene smiles sadly and leaves.
Immaculée’s separation from Damascene is one of the most heart-wrenching moments in the book. Immaculée characterizes Damascene as full of happiness, humor, and vitality, but at this point he is barely present, already haunted by death. Again, the comment about him being “a disappearing soul” suggests Immaculée has a hint of foresight into his fate.
Themes
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Get the entire Left to Tell LitChart as a printable PDF.
Left to Tell PDF