Discussion Board Questions

1.  Do you think that Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s smell is a sign of the devil, as most who come in contact with him do? Do his oddities stem from this lack of smell, or do they come from the environment in which he grew up in?

2. Why is smell significant in the novel? More specifically, why did the author choose smell as the primary focus rather than any of the other senses?

3. Madame Gaillard seems to be very similar to Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in that they both lack empathy and are very impersonal. Why do you think that even Madame is unsettled by Grenouille despite their similarities? 




2 thoughts on “Discussion Board Questions

  1. 1. I think in life today it sounds crazy that his lack of an odor is a sign that he is the devil, but in the 1700s it may have been more of an acceptable conclusion. He has been weird since birth so I don’t think that is what is making his be weird, but I think it has something to do with his weird obsession with smells.

    2. The smells in that time period seems to be more powerful and gross than what is smelled in the world today. The author goes into deep details about the smells of everything from wood to people to the environment. Smells would be an easy sense to take over like Grenouille might do with his future victims.

    3. Madame Gaillard seems to be worried about herself. She doesn’t want a child with such abilities to live in her home for safety purposes. She thinks he has “second sight” and knows people with second sight bring misfortune so she must get rid of him.

  2. 1. As I read this, particularly the reactions of other characters, I realized that I don’t think I can even imagine the smell of nothing. Really, truely void of smell. Even candles that are claimed to have no scent still have some faint aroma of wax, for example. The reason I feel that this lack of smell has a tie to his “devil” qualities is because even if a child doesn’t have the sweet baby smell, they would still smell like things they eat or are around. So, I was thinking maybe the creepy notion that his non smell could mask those that overpower the city could cause the “devil” notion about him.
    2. It maybe they were just more attuned to smell then, but I did (oddly enough) watch a documentary my freshman year in Morales’ world history class that was all about the horrid smell in eighteenth century France. It talked about butchers just dumping their rancid meat in the streets and how rich people lived on hills so that their bathroom waste would wash down into the poorer areas. Not to mention that personal hygiene was nothing like it is today, so people weren’t terribly aware of personal odor, as we are today.
    3. At first, I thought that Grenouille and Gaillard were characters that would compliment each other, but further into the chapters, as Grenouille because more and more isolated, so did his character. Gaillard became very no-nonsense because of her rough life experiences. Grenouille, however, is inherently “devil-like”, I don’t have a better descriptor than that yet!

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