Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is introduced before his birth as “gifted and abominable”. The first six chapters give numerous examples of his character that describe how and why he is so interesting. In chapter four it is said that “he decided in favor of life out of sheer spite and sheep malice” (21). Since his birth he is known to not be a normal child especially because of his non-existent scent. But as he lives at Madame Gaillard’s he takes to his character. His life was tested and tried, but he always came out alive. After leaving for days at a time, not eating, contracting fatal diseases, and being suffocated by the other children, Grenouille lived. There are so many signs that he is going to go on to do terrible things.


In chapter five we see how uneducated and in-advanced he is. He doesn’t care to learn words unless he can identify an odor with them. He soon identifies with wood “until he becomes wood himself” (24). He sat on the log for what seemed to be a long time before he was engulfed by the wood. He was almost “suffocated” by the wood. Why did it take such a terrifying and intense moment of being threatened by wood for him to experience the wood? Why did he go on to learn all the different types of wood by smell? Why wood?





2 thoughts on “

  1. I think that the author is definitely setting us up for the terrible things that Grenouille will do. His oddities and ‘devil-like’ features are really what makes this an extraordinary story. The way he is described is frightening enough, but then his peculiar relationship with smell is just plain weird. Grenouille survives situations that no one should have survived from that time period. I don’t think that it is a coincidence. There is something inherently evil that he inherited from the lack of love and compassion from his mother. Now what that has to do with smell, I think that may just be the author’s creative license.

  2. Through these first chapters (and I presume will continue through the entirety of the book) the author attempts to make us see things through smell, as Grenouille does. Which was weird at first, especially things like his description of Terrier smelling of vinegar but I decided to go with it and the description did end up illustrating his character nicely. When I think of vinegar I thought of a sharp, overwhelming odor, and Terrier was very absorbed with himself and consistently made hasty judgements around those around him. I didn’t actually pick up the same vibe in regard to Grenouille’s intelligence; I think that his use of smell to develop and grow through childhood, without a figure to teach him like parents do today, he was forced to find a learning method on his own.

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