Left to Tell


Immaculée Ilibagiza

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Left to Tell, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

God, Faith, and Miracles

In Left to Tell, Immaculée Ilibagiza explains how living through the Rwandan genocide—an event so horrifying that one might expect it to lead to a crisis of faith—ultimately strengthened her Catholic faith and relationship with God. Indeed, she credits her miraculous survival to God, and in this way, the book depicts faith as a self-reinforcing cycle, wherein Immaculée’s trust in God produces miracles, which in turn bolster her religious convictions. As Immaculée’s faith grows…

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Love vs. Prejudice

In Left to Tell, Immaculée provides a testament to both the great love and intense prejudice she has experienced in life. One of the most startling lessons of her story is that love and prejudice, despite being opposing forces, often coexist alongside one another. Love can turn into prejudice with disturbing speed, yet her story shows that the opposite is also true. While Immaculée acknowledges the frightening and destructive power of prejudice, she believes…

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Forgiveness and Redemption

Left to Tell is a story about choosing forgiveness under the most extreme of circumstances. The crimes of the people who massacred Immaculée’s family and up to a million other Rwandans during the genocide are among the worst that can be committed, and yet Immaculée insists that they can be redeemed and must be forgiven. By foregrounding the difficulty she experienced in forgiving the killers, Immaculée emphasizes that forgiveness is not simple or easy…

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Good vs. Evil

Immaculée’s story shows how good and evil exist side-by-side, often in a remarkably extreme fashion. Immaculée’s family—and particularly her parents—are a model of kindness and justice. Her father, Leonard, is a pillar of the community who is always helping others, and her mother, Rose, is similarly committed to helping those in need. Yet alongside this immense goodness lies the evil of prejudice, hatred, and violence—an evil which eventually ends up killing Leonard…

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Education, Discipline, and Growth

In Immaculée’s family, education is extremely important. Both her parents are teachers and encourage their children to be extremely diligent in their studies, providing the children with extra instruction and supervision on their homework. Immaculée is an ambitious, intelligent, and disciplined young woman, and she excels academically. This opens up opportunities for her to attend the very best educational institutions in Rwanda, experience independence at a young age, and lay the foundations for an…

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