Perfume

Perfume

Perfume Part 1, Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Grenouille pours alcohol into the mixing bottle, horrifying Baldini from the start. In what seems like a haphazard way, Grenouille grabs different bottles, sniffs them, and pours them into the mixing bottle, ignoring the pipettes and test tubes. Baldini thinks that he looks like a selfish child, and is caught up in his own disgust at Grenouille and the age that has allowed individuals like Grenouille to exist; he only comes to when Grenouille begins to shake the mixing bottle vigorously.
Baldini keeps a running mental narration of the correct way to mix a perfume, which allows the reader to follow along and join in his horror. We see again Baldini's anxieties about the age he's living in, where individuals like Grenouille have a chance to be more than street beggars.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
Creative Genius vs. Convention and Assimilation Theme Icon
Upward Mobility and Social Movement Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Baldini yells for Grenouille to stop and calls him a brat and crude, adding that Grenouille may never again enter a perfumer's shop. However, as he speaks, he smells Amor and Psyche in the air. The narrator says that odors are powerful and cannot be fended off, and as Grenouille steps back from the table, Baldini slowly stops his tirade. He tests the concoction on a handkerchief and says "incredible."
The reaction here relies on the novel's premise that scent governs everything, whether we are conscious of it or not. Baldini's reaction here is due to the fact that he cannot escape the scent of Amor and Psyche in the room, and cannot control how it affects him.
Themes
Power and Control Theme Icon
Creative Genius vs. Convention and Assimilation Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
While Baldini sniffs the handkerchief in stunned silence, Grenouille asserts that the perfume isn't very good, and says he'll make it better. Baldini doesn't interfere as Grenouille mixes right into the beaker of Amor and Psyche. Grenouille then swirls the mixture delicately, rather than shaking it, and pronounces it done. When asked, however, Baldini declines to test it and shows Grenouille to the door.
Grenouille shows off what he's been doing for fun in his head for years. Grenouille's swirl instead of a shake of the finished perfume is possibly a nod to Baldini's sense of order and how things should be, which might help to turn Baldini in his favor.
Themes
Creative Genius vs. Convention and Assimilation Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Grenouille again asks Baldini if he can work for him, and Baldini, still stunned, says he'll think about it. Grenouille disappears, and Baldini is frightened by what's just occurred. He returns to the laboratory and tests the new perfume, which he finds glorious. Silently he begins to trim the leather and starts the process of scenting the skins. Upstairs later he says nothing to his wife, and he forgets to light a candle at Notre-Dame, and forgets for the first time to say his prayers.
It’s important that Baldini forgets to say his prayers. Characters all along have equated Grenouille with the devil, and his ability to mix this perfume has definitely had enough of an effect on Baldini to effectively lead him away from religion. We also see that Baldini's earlier decision is evidently reversed now, and it's obvious that Baldini will indeed take Grenouille on.
Themes
Power and Control Theme Icon
Creative Genius vs. Convention and Assimilation Theme Icon
Upward Mobility and Social Movement Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Get the entire Perfume LitChart as a printable PDF.
Perfume.pdf.medium