Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda

by Alexis Siegel and J.P. Stassen

In the introduction to his graphic novel, Stassen outlines the brief history of Rwanda,... read more

In the introduction to his graphic novel, Stassen outlines the brief history of Rwanda, and in greater detail, the several years leading up to the 1994 civil war/genocide between the Tutsis and the Hutus. This helps prepare the reader for a very difficult story, told in flashbacks and brief escapes from reality into the imagination of the main character. Deogratias is a Hutu boy living in the aftermath of the genocide in which he took part. Traumatized by the violence he has committed after gradual conditioning by higher powers, he moves in and out of the present time. In the pre-war flashbacks, Deogratias is a happy boy, socializing and flirting with Tutsi girls, questioning the distinctions between the tribes, even blaming whites for such a meaningless classification. He is tidily dressed, and the colors of the landscape are bright and cheerful. In the present, Deogratias’s wild eyes and animal-like behavior, his tattered clothing and huddled body that seems to morph into the brindled coat of a dog, all suggest the degradation and dehumanization of the experience on his body ands soul. Stassen makes the interesting choice to focus on Deogratias, a member of the oppressing tribe, to underscore the fact that in the case of Rwanda, everyone suffers from the inhumanity of ethnic cleansing. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2007

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