Discussion questions – Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer: Why does Grenouille never consider himself
- Why does Grenouille never consider himself or others in terms of their humanity? Aside from his supernatural powers of smell, are human beings ever this detached and cruelly inhuman?
- What is the closest thing Grenouille has to a friend in this novel?
- Why does Father Terrier take Grenouille quickly to Madame Gaillard?
- When the Marquis takes Grenouille in, why is it not really for Grenouille’s betterment? What is his agenda?
2. The perfumer Baldini would be the closest thing Grenouille has to a friend in this novel. Baldini cares for Grenouille when he is sick with syphilitic smallpox, at least out of a desire to protect a valuable asset. So, while Baldini certainly does not love Grenouille, the two have some semblance of a normal human relationship, probably the only one Grenouille has in his life.
3. The tiny infant Grenouille began sniffing the smell of Father Terrier, which caused the priest to feel very weird. Grenouille’s sense of smell, and his will to enjoy and collect a smell memory, is present from birth, but his lack of scent and his unusual sniffing make him seem even less human than a normal baby.
4. The Marquis springs on the opportunity of using this “wild man” as a proof for his theories of fluidum vitale. These exceedingly fantastic ideas involve some exhalation of the earth which somehow causes the deterioration and death of all who come in contact with it. The Marquis “rehabilitates” him with a therapy involving elevation above the earth and only eating foods grown above ground, knowing full well that Grenouille only needed a haircut and shave, a bath, and some new clothes to become “human” again.
1. A present-day interpretation of Grenouille’s character would diagnose him with a kind of extreme psychosis, perhaps present from birth and exacerbated by neglect and cruel treatment, characterized by a lack of all human feeling for others. Grenouille is unusual and separate from humanity perhaps some kind of troubled genius.