Immaculée is the author and narrator of the book. Born in Mataba, a village in the province of Kibuye, Rwanda, Immaculée has a happy childhood surrounded by the love of her parents and brothers. She… read analysis of Immaculée Ilibagiza
Leonard is Immaculée’s father. He is an intelligent, kind, and protective man who is a pillar of his local community. After working as a teacher, he is eventually promoted to chief administrator for all the… read analysis of Leonard Ukulikiyinkindi
Marie Rose Kankindi
Marie Rose, known as Rose, is Immaculée’s mother. She is a teacher and, like her husband, is someone to whom others in the community turn for support. She is known for her exceptional kindness and… read analysis of Marie Rose Kankindi
Aimable is Immaculée’s oldest brother, and the only other member of her immediate family who survives the genocide. He is quiet, reflective, and mature beyond his years. He is conducting postgraduate research on a scholarship… read analysis of Aimable
Vianney is Immaculée’s younger brother. Immaculée calls him “lovable but pesky,” and admits that she always sees him as a baby no matter how old he gets. Vianney is home from boarding school when the… read analysis of Vianney
President Juvénal Habyarimana
President Habyarimana is the leader of the Hutu government in the period leading up to the genocide. He helps to stoke ethnic tensions by instituting ethnic roll calls in classrooms, limiting the number of places… read analysis of President Juvénal Habyarimana
Kabayi is a Hutu man who was formerly a friend of Leonard’s. He is the regional mayor of Kibuye before and during the genocide, and he betrays Leonard by not intervening in his wrongful… read analysis of Kabayi
John is Immaculée’s boyfriend during her university years. He is Hutu and protestant, but this does not matter to Immaculée as he is kind and deeply religious. They get engaged, but John embarrasses her by… read analysis of John
Pastor Murinzi is a Hutu protestant pastor who lives in Mataba. He agrees to shelter Immaculée and other Tutsi women and girls, putting his life at risk to do so. At the same time, he… read analysis of Pastor Murinzi
Father Clement is a priest to whom Immaculée inquires as a young child about becoming a nun.
Jeanette is a childhood friend of Immaculée.
Buhoro is Immaculée’s elementary school teacher. He scolds her for not knowing her tribal affiliation, and Immaculée later learns he is a Hutu extremist. During the genocide, he is one of the people who betrayed Damascene.
Rutakamize is a Hutu friend of Leonard and Rose who helps them during the 1973 massacre of Tutsis.
Sarah is one of Immaculée’s friends from Lycée. They also attend the National University in Butare together and live as roommates. Sarah is Hutu and from Kigali. After the genocide, Immaculée lives with her for a while and calls Sarah her “sister.”
Clementine is a friend of Immaculée’s and a fellow Tutsi student at Lycée.
Mr. Gagihi is Immaculée’s Civil Education teacher at Lycée. He informs Immaculée when war breaks out, and paints the RPF soldiers in an unsympathetic light.
Danida is a Hutu girl at Lycée with an irrational fear of Tutsis.
Madame Sirake is a “neighborhood gossip” in Mataba.
Theoneste Bagosora is a Hutu extremist military officer and one of the instigators of the genocide.
Augustine is Sarah’s younger brother and a friend of Vianney. During the beginning of the genocide, he panics because although he is Hutu, he looks Tutsi. He and Vianney are killed together in the stadium massacre.
Paul Kagame is the leader of the RPF. After the genocide, he is elected President of Rwanda.
Agathe Uwilingiyimana is the moderate Hutu prime minister in the leadup to the genocide. She is assassinated by Hutu extremists while giving a live interview, and this event helps trigger the genocide.
Janet is a Hutu friend of Immaculée’s from elementary school who turns on her when the genocide begins.
Lechim is one of Pastor Murinzi’s sons and a friend of Immaculée’s from primary school. He is the first boy she ever kissed.
Dusenge is one of Pastor Murinzi’s daughters.
Nzima is one of Vianney’s teachers from high school who seeks shelter at Pastor Murinzi’s house. After the pastor turns him away, Nzima is murdered.
At 55, Therese is the oldest woman who hides in the bathroom with Immaculée. She is there with her daughters Claire and Sanda.
Athanasia is one of the girls who hides in the bathroom with Immaculée. She is 14 years old.
Beata is another of the girls who hides in the bathroom. She is 12 years old.
Claire is one of Therese’s daughters, who hides in the bathroom.
Sanda is Therese’s daughter and, at 7, is the youngest girl in the bathroom.
Sembeba is one of Pastor Murinzi’s sons and the only one of the pastor’s children to support the genocide. He threatens to betray his father for hiding Tutsis, despite the fact that Sembeba’s own mother was Tutsi.
Sony is an elderly Tutsi widow who is killed when Pastor Murinzi refuses to offer her shelter in his house.
Malaba is a young Tutsi woman who comes to join the women hiding in the bathroom.
Solange is a Tutsi teenager who also comes to join the women hiding in the bathroom.
Marianne is one of Pastor Murinzi’s daughters. She had been hiding Malaba and Solange and her house in northern Rwanda, but is forced to send them south to Mataba after people start getting suspicious.
Jean Paul is an old friend of Immaculée’s, with whom she reunites in the French camp. He is Tutsi, but looks Hutu, which allowed him to survive the genocide. He tells Immaculée the sad stories of how each of her family members was killed.
Jean Baptiste is Jean Paul’s brother. He is badly wounded in the genocide, but survives.
Laurent is a Hutu friend of Jean Paul’s who hid both Jean Paul and Jean Baptiste during the genocide, but participated in killing Tutsis.
Murenge is a Hutu friend of Rose’s who betrays her during the genocide.
Esperance is one of Immaculée’s maternal aunts who survived the genocide by hiding in the forest.
Jeanne is another of Immaculée’s aunts who also survived the genocide.
Bonn is a Hutu friend of Damascene’s who hid him and tried to help him escape to Zaire. After Damascene was killed, Bonn reportedly went mad with grief.
Nsenge is another close friend of Damascene’s who tried to help him escape. Her brother Simoni betrayed Damascene, leading to his death.
Semahe is a former friend of Damascene’s who helped to kill him and then deeply regretted it.
The captain of the French base camp takes a liking to Immaculée and offers to kill Hutus for her.
Florence is a Tutsi survivor whom Immaculée meets in the French base camp.
Pierre is a French soldier who falls in love with Immaculée. He is sad but understanding when she rejects him.
Aloise is a friend of Rose and Leonard’s who uses a wheelchair after contracting polio as a child. Known for her intelligence and good humor, she takes Immaculée to live with her in Kigali after the genocide.
Bazil is a Hutu friend of Immaculée’s from Mataba who went to fight with the RPF. His entire family is killed in the genocide.
Major Ntwali is the leader of the RPF camp.
Fari is Aloise’s Tutsi husband. He survives the genocide.
The Ghanaian Guard
The Ghanaian guard is a friendly man who works at the UN.
Dr. Abel is one of Immaculée’s old professors from the university in Butare.
The colonel is a Tutsi soldier who helps Immaculée access her old dorm room in Butare.
Pierre Mehu is a spokesman for UNAMIR at the UN. He takes a liking to Immaculée and gives her a job.
Colonel Gueye is a kind Senegalese officer who escorts Immaculée back to Mataba by helicopter.
Captain Traore is another kind man who protects Immaculée during her trip back to Mataba.
Felicien is the leader of the Hutu gang who killed Rose and Damascene. Formerly a charming, handsome, and successful businessman, he is destroyed when forced to confront the crimes he committed during the genocide. Immaculée takes pity on him and forgives him.
Bryan Black is an American man who comes to Rwanda to set up the International Criminal Tribunal. He and Immaculée marry, and eventually move back to the United States together.
Nikeisha is Immaculée’s daughter.
Bryan, Jr. is Immaculée’s son.
Immaculée's uncle, who gets killed in a massacre of Tutsi families.
The brother of Nsenge. Simoni betrays Damascene as Damscene attempts to hide from the Hutus, leading quickly to Damascene's murder by a number of Hutus.
The regional mayor in charge of Kibuye some time after the mass killings. He takes Immaculée to see the man who led the gang who killed her mother and brother. When Immaculée forgives the man, Semana is shocked.