Passage Person

In this final section everything pretty much just goes crazy. As if the hanging turned orgy, the father begging for his daughter’s murderer to be his son, the apparent mass amnesia in the town by far the part that truly shocked me was Grenouille’s demise. Grenouille bathed himself in his ultimate perfume, of which it only took one drop to send the whole city ready to hang him into a frenzy, a group of about 20 or 30 people, that were indeed all murders, killed and ate him. 

“The angel was decided into thirty pieces, and every animal in the pack snatched a piece for itself, and then driven by voluptuous lust, dropped back to devour it.” 

“All of a sudden there were delightful, bright flutterings in their dark souls. And on their faces was a delicate, virginal glow of happiness.”

“For the first time they had done something out of love.”

Do you think that Grenouille giving others this virginal glow brings the story almost full circle? Why do you think that Grenouille is referred to as an angel? Is it just because of the amount of perfume, or a broader reference? How do you think that love is represented throughout this novel? I think that it debases societies notion of love to a biological response, between all types of relationships: parent to child, friend to friend, lust, and even self in the final chapter. 

Connections

Okay so, in this section we finally reach what we have all been anticipating: murder! (and a lot of them!) Grenouille has now killed 24 virgin girls in order to hone his distilling before getting the girl he really wants to distill, the Red-head. I found it really weird how Grenouille became almost suicidal when he thought about the red-head’s scent fading after he made the perfume and that he didn’t even care about looking at her dead body once he had her smell. My (and Riley’s!) public speech teacher had said that odor was the strongest link to memory. In this article (http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/perception/smell3.htm) it breaks down how, since the womb smell is the strongest persuader and trigger for memory. I wonder if this makes Grenouille’s memory even stronger, because his memory trigger is so drastically more advanced? Additionally, this could further fuel his obsession, because he has an addiction to the olfactory stimulation. 

Also, while I was looking for college scholarships I found this one!

Smells like college debt. The Fragrance Research Fund makes a scholarship of up to $50,000 available to clinical psychologists who are completing post-graduate research in aromachology. I always knew my fantastic sense of smell might come in handy, alas, I’m not studying anything at the post-graduate level. If you are, you can get in touch with the Fragrance Research Fund – 145 East 32nd St., New York, N.Y. 10016-6002.
Grenouille would defiantly get the 50K!

-Carolyn

Discussion Leader

1. Grenouille has a terrible dream that makes him decide to move back to civilization after seven years in the cave. Why do you think that his dream about having a body odor that he cannot smell freaks him out so much? Weather he had a natural smell or not wouldn’t it fade after he died anyway? If Grenouille has already concocted great perfumes when he was with Baldini, how would he not make a mark on the olfactory world?

 2. When Grenouille came back into civilization in Pierrefort, he insisted that he was captured an held hostage for seven years as opposed to just saying that he had been living in solitude. Why would he do this if he really doesn’t like humans anyway? Is it because he wants them to notice him, since he now knows they can’s smell him?

3. Following Grenouill’s slip out of town The Marquis walks up a mountain and never returns (he is presumably dead). Why do you think that everyone Grenouille contacts dies either untimely or miserably, even when he has no intention of it? Do you think that this shows that Grenouille’s evil nature is out of his control?

-Carolyn

Passage Person

Let me begin by saying that I felt weird reading this section, much less writing about it here. I solely chose this passage because when I read it was creeped out while reading it!

“To enhance the mood, he first conjured up those that were earliest and most remote: the hostile, steaming vapors of Madame Gaillard’s bedroom; the bone-dry, leathery bouquet of her hands; the vinegary breath of Father Terrier; the hysterical, hot maternal sweat of Bussie the wet nurse; the carrion stench of the Cimetiere des Innocents; the homicidal odor of his mother. And he wallowed in disgust and loathing, and his hair stood on end at the delicious horror…

“And then all at once, the pent-up hate would erupt with orgasmic force-that was, after all, the point of the exercise. Like a thunderstorm he rolled across these odors that had dared offend his patrician nose. He thrashed at them as hail thrashes a grainfield; like a hurricane, he scattered the rabble and drowned them in a grand purifying deluge of distilled water. And how just was his anger. How great his revenge” 

So, now that Grenouille is alone, and away from all humankind, I think that he will drive himself more mad than he already seemed. This passage was just so uncomfortable to read (so clearly I made you read it again). I think that it is a sort of turning point because we are seeing his intense connection to his smells in a way that angered him so much and this passage clearly eluded to him master bating literally to smell memories. This passage also marked a turn in the novel that may be more plot driven, now we have seen Grenouille and have understand his character so I think that the novel will be more plot driven than just laying a very extensive groundwork as it has been. 

 

-Carolyn 

Connections

Grenouille’s behavior in this section, especially as he pulls farther and farther away from humanity, made me think of an article that centered around odor as the most powerful memory trigger. In “Odor-evoked Autobiographical memories”( http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/content/25/1/111.full ) references a study done in 1989 by Cann and Ross that used olfactory stimuli to solicit memories.

Could Grenouille’s retraction from society be subconsciously linked to the memories he associates with humans? Why or why not? I think that it is possible because all of the humans that Grenouille has been in contact with have abandoned him, and from this sections particularly Baldini has illustrated his seemingly evil character. Grenouille’s one sort of positive interaction with a human was with the young virgin, which did end in death and disintegration of the odor he ‘loved’. However, this would mean that Grenouille has some deeply, deeply, buried resentment toward how people have treated him and guilt for what he did to the innocent young girl.
What do you think?

-Carolyn

Discussion Questions

1. Baldini seems to be a greedy man that is only concerned with business, and rightfully so because of the threat of closing shop. He does not even like the perfume Amor and Psyche, but is obsessed with it because it is monetarily successful. Do you think that Grenuoille will make a better master perfumer because he doesn’t have another motive? Do you think that is true in jobs now? Or is money the best motivator?

2. I looked up Amor and Psyche and it turns out that is is a reference to the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche (Pretty much she is so beautiful that she makes Venus [goddess of beauty] jealous and Cupid falls for her, but she encounters a ton of obstacles and loneliness due to her curiosity. Do you think that the ‘virgin smell’ that engulfs Grenuoille is how he feels love? He doesn’t interpret other emotions, or words, like the rest of us; could this be his definition for love?

3. Grenuoille is most interested in extracting and distilling essences from living plants. Do you think that this part where Baldini shows him will play a role in Grenuoille using this technique with women?

-Carolyn

Passage Person

             Grenouille had killed the young girl, about 13 years old, in order to enjoy her scent as he pleased. After she was dead and he described how he engulfed himself with her scent, keeping his eyes closed. Did you guys feel as though he was violating her, although not through touch but through scent? This whole section severely creeped me out (though we did choose a serial killer novel!) In the last paragraph of page 43 Grenouille had returned home from tracking and capturing the “perfect scent”. This passage was extremely interesting because he showed absolutely zero guilt for what he had just done, in fact, just the opposite. Grenouille felt pride; he felt purpose. I feel like Grenouille has developed a sort of Messiah complex since he murdered the 13 year old girl because following the incident he harps on the fact that he finally found: “true happiness”, “pure bliss”, and he, “finally knew who he really was”, “genius”.  Since committing this horrid act he feels like murder is his calling, not something he should be ashamed of.

-Carolyn