Perfume

Perfume

Perfume Part 1, Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Grenouille develops a high fever that after a few days develops into pustules and boils. Baldini is understandably worried, as he's considering opening a small factory where popular scents could be mixed and sent all over Europe. While technically an illegal venture, Baldini has the possibility of a royal patent thanks to one of his clients, which would allow him to skip pesky restrictions. Baldini is also entertaining the idea of having Grenouille create individual perfumes for a select few clients.
We see that Baldini is poised to conquer his competition through scent and be the reigning perfumer of Europe, but the reader (as well as, and most importantly, Baldini) is forced to realize that this success is all due to Grenouille and his genius.
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
In light of these dreams, Baldini decides to do whatever it takes to save Grenouille. Grenouille is moved to a clean bed on the top floor and fed chicken broth and wine. Baldini sends for Dr. Procope, a very expensive physician. With a brief look, the doctor diagnoses Grenouille with syphilitic smallpox, complicated by festering measles, for which there is no treatment. Interestingly, Grenouille's body doesn't exhibit the characteristic stench of the disease, but he's still likely to die within 48 hours.
Others once again pick up on the fact that Grenouille doesn't smell, although note here that he specifically doesn't smell like decay or death. Baldini's desperation is obvious, as this is the best care Grenouille has received in his life. Note, though, that this care isn't for Grenouille's sake—Baldini is taking care of Grenouille like this only because he needs him to accomplish his goals.
Themes
Upward Mobility and Social Movement Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Baldini is distraught at this turn of events. He considers making a pilgrimage to Notre-Dame to light a candle, but decides instead to attempt to take Grenouille's "perfumatory confession" and get one last formula out of his dying apprentice. Baldini whispers to Grenouille that this final perfume will have Grenouille's name engraved on the bottle and be given to the king, but Grenouille doesn't stir.
Grenouille again comes between Baldini and religion. We're reminded here that Grenouille's goals don't necessarily include fame or fortune, as Baldini's whisper of Grenouille's fame doesn't even cause Grenouille to stir.
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
Baldini sits all night with Grenouille. At dawn he gives up, but suddenly Grenouille speaks and asks if there are other ways of extracting scent besides distillation. Baldini, thinking this is surely the end, tells Grenouille that there are three other methods, and all are superior to distillation. He says that these processes are carried out primarily in Grasse, in the south of France. Baldini gets up to leave and thinks he should call a priest, but Grenouille's body has actually begun healing. In a week, he's fully recovered.
Knowledge is finally what makes Grenouille wake and begin healing, and the reader can assume that Grenouille will eventually end up in Grasse to learn these other methods Baldini mentions. Knowledge that will allow Grenouille to accomplish his goals is a strong enough promise to overcome deathly disease (especially when the disease itself seemed to spring from Grenouille’s frustration with his lack of knowledge).
Themes
Power and Control Theme Icon
Creative Genius vs. Convention and Assimilation Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Get the entire Perfume LitChart as a printable PDF.
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