Perfume

Perfume

Perfume Part 2, Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Grenouille heads south to Orléans, and as he gets further away from Paris, the simplicity of the natural scents allows him to nearly breathe freely (he never truly breathes freely, as he's constantly wary of the air he lets into his body, and has always preferred exhaling over inhaling). Nonetheless, he's able to carry himself upright instead of hunched, and appears normal for stretches of his journey. Even more importantly, Grenouille feels freed from the press of human stench in Paris. He realizes it's people rather than the world that he finds oppressive.
The realization that it's the people in the world rather than the world itself that offends Grenouille will begin to lead him towards raging misanthropy later in life. Notice though how he focuses on the stench of people; this will be important to remember later when he begins creating human-scented perfumes. As usual, he perceives life primarily through aromas, and so his hatred of humanity manifests itself as a hatred of human scent.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
As Grenouille approaches Orléans, he changes his plan and decides to skip the human smell of the city. Soon he begins avoiding not just cities but villages as well, and finds the clear air intoxicating. Within weeks even fellow travelers become too much for Grenouille's nose, so he does what it takes to avoid running into them, eventually traveling only at night.
This is proving to be a period of immense growth and change for Grenouille. He transitions from living in one of the most densely populated cities to avoiding even solo travelers, which only adds to his isolation and misanthropy.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
The sight of the landscape during the day is nearly overwhelming for Grenouille's eyes, but he is fascinated by moonlight. The view at night is gray, and the narrator likens it to the world of Grenouille's soul.
Grenouille begins to retreat within himself as he starts to feel overwhelmed by the outside world as a whole. His world revolves around pure, non-human scent and nothing else.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Grenouille travels south and meets no other people, although he's aware of their existence thanks to his sense of smell. He begins to search out progressively more remote regions in order to escape the human smell, which increasingly repulses him.
The reader begins to question whether Grenouille will ever reach Grasse and accomplish his goals, as we find that now Grenouille is unable to handle being around others at all.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
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