Left to Tell

by

Immaculée Ilibagiza

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Left to Tell: Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Over the next two years, Immaculée leads a “quiet, reflective life.” She works at the UN and lives with Sarah’s family, and in her spare time she volunteers at an orphanage. In 1995 Aimable returns to Rwanda. At first brother and sister find it hard to even meet each other’s eyes. They have dinner with friends at a restaurant and joke around together. However, that night Immaculée sobs alone in bed. The next day is easier, and Immaculée feels that they have silently agreed not to discuss what happened to their family. Eventually Aimable qualifies as a veterinarian and moves to Kigali, where he still lives. He is now married with a child. He and Immaculée write to each other at least once a week, and never speak about their family in the past tense in order to “keep their memory alive.”
In some ways Immaculée and Aimable’s survival is a happy aspect of the story. At the same time, their relationship also speaks to the irrevocable trauma and pain that they will never escape. Although they remain close, their grief is so strong that they cannot even bear to discuss it. Both of them must disconnect from the reality of their family’s death in order to keep going—yet their mutual decision to do so also constitutes a hope founded in love and support.
Themes
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
Immaculée spends many hours at her local Jesuit center in Kigali, and during her prayers she asks God to send her a husband. She visualizes a strong, kind, deeply ethical man who loves children and God. She doesn’t mind what race or nationality the man is, but asks that he is Catholic because she loves Catholicism and wants to be able to worship in the same way as her husband. Three months later, Immaculée meets the man she imagined. His name is Bryan Black, and he is an American who also works for the UN and arrives in Rwanda to help set up the International Criminal Tribunal.
This passage contains another extraordinary example of the power of positive visualization and prayer. Another important dimension of Immaculée’s quest for a husband that she does not explicitly mention is the fact that she refused to settle for anyone less than perfect for her. She could have married John or Pierre, but she waited because she believed that God had someone perfect in store—and she was right.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Immaculée and Bryan’s first date is wonderful, and she feels that they are a “perfect match.” Nervously, she asks about his religion, and when he replies that he is Catholic she feels sure that he is the man with whom she will spend the rest of her life. Two years later, the two marry in a traditional Rwandan ceremony. In 1998, they move to America. They now have two children, Nikeisha and Bryan, Jr. After her children are born, Immaculée gets a job at the UN headquarters in Manhattan. She returns to Rwanda often and at the time of writing is setting up a foundation to help genocide survivors all over the world.
Although Immaculée’s life is completely different from what it was before the genocide, there are some similarities. Her hard work and intelligence continue to pay off, and she secures important and meaningful work. Meanwhile, her kindness and devotion to family allow her to build a new family for herself. This may all take place in a country and context she could never have imagined in advance, yet it nonetheless feels like the natural conclusion of Immaculée’s story. 
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Immaculée insists that the message of forgiveness is relevant to people the world over. Many people, including survivors of the Rwandan genocide, find it extraordinarily difficult to forgive others. However, many people have told Immaculée that it is an enormous relief when they are eventually able to forgive. Immaculée meets a Holocaust survivor who says Immaculée’s story inspired her to forgive those who killed her parents, which has finally allowed her to let go of her anger. A 92-year-old women confesses to Immaculée that she always thought it was “too late” to forgive, but now happily realizes there is no such thing.
Immaculée is emphatic that the fact that forgiveness is difficult does not mean it is wrong or impossible. Rather, the difficulty of compelling oneself to forgive belies the peace, happiness, and relief that comes when one is actually able to do so. This is why Immaculée focuses on sharing the importance of forgiveness with others, because she understands it is difficult to believe in the possibility of forgiveness on one’s own.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
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Immaculée explains that in Rwanda, killers are being released from prison and reintegrated into their communities. Through the power of forgiveness, she  believes that Rwanda can be a “paradise” again. She insists that “the love of a single heart can make a world of difference” and hopes that her story helps to heal the world by healing the hearts of individuals.
This passage introduces another way in which Immaculée believes in the importance of individuals. Not only is each human valuable as a child of God, but each human also has the capacity to enact enormous positive change.
Themes
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon