Father Terrier is a learned man who has studied theology as well as philosophy, and thinks highly of himself in this regard. He combats fiercely the folk superstitions that plague his parish, the persistence of which he finds depressing. He thinks that Jeanne Bussie is very wrong in her assessment of Grenouille, particularly since she came to her conclusion with her nose. Father Terrier believes this is a nod to primitive paganism (which believed in smelling blood and offering stinky sacrifices to the gods) and not rooted in Christian reason.
In this instance, knowing already that Grenouille will become a master of scent, we see a divide being drawn between scent and the church, and indeed, according to Father Terrier, against instinct and civilization. The reader is again reminded of Jeanne Bussie's social standing, as she too is compared to the "primitive paganism" that so irritates Father Terrier.
Father Terrier rocks the sleeping Grenouille's basket on his knees and strokes Grenouille's head, talking to him about Bussie's nonsense ideas. He smells his fingers that were stroking Grenouille's head and smells nothing. He lifts the basket, expecting to smell milk or sweat, but finds he smells nothing at all. He reasons that clean infants just don't smell until the child reaches puberty, and an infant that has no conception of what sin is cannot possibly smell.
Despite his qualms, Father Terrier is still curious about the smell of babies. Notice Terrier's assertion that children don't smell until puberty; this foreshadows important plot points later. Also, note here that sin is equated to a personal scent, which adds another instance of black humor, as we know Grenouille is "abominable."
Father Terrier, still rocking Grenouillee's basket, entertains the fantasy that he hadn't become a monk, but instead took a wife and is rocking his own child. He feels especially cozy about the thought.
This is an uncharacteristically tender moment for Grenouille, and possibly the only time throughout the novel he's ever regarded with even passing affection.
Grenouille begins to wake, nose first. His nose sniffs and snorts and his eyes open and appear to not even perceive Father Terrier. Father Terrier, however, has the uncomfortable impression that Grenouille is "seeing" him with his nose, and in his mind likens the infant to a meat-eating plant in the botanical gardens. Terrier feels ill and exposed. He stands and thinks he wants to get rid of the "thing" immediately.
Grenouille here becomes truly sub-human in Father Terrier's eyes. He's no longer an innocent infant; he's a "thing." This is developed further with the comparison to a plant, which occurs several times throughout the novel.
Grenouille begins to cry, chilling Father Terrier's blood. Father Terrier begins to think of the child as a devil, but stops short. He quickly thinks of where the infant could go, and settles on the home of Madame Gaillard, just outside the city. He carries Grenouille there and pays a year in advance. Returning home, he undresses, scrubs himself, and climbs into bed, crossing himself and praying until he falls asleep.
Father Terrier and Jeanne Bussie will likely never know that they were right about Grenouille being a “devil.” The comparison is developed further as the novel goes on, and especially as Grenouille begins committing actual evil acts. Yet we also must question to what extent Grenouille’s “abominable” character is a result of being treated as monstrous since his very birth.