Perfume

Perfume

Perfume Part 3, Chapter 35 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It takes Grenouille seven days to reach the town of Grasse, a small city nestled in a valley close to the sea but not at all maritime. Grasse is the center for the production of scents, perfumes, and other such odorous items. Grenouille dabs himself with his human perfume and approaches the town. He wishes only to learn the methods of producing scent that Baldini told him about. After eating at an inn, Grenouille spends the afternoon wandering. He passes a number of perfumers' shops, as well as soapworks and scent wholesalers. Grenouille realizes that, despite these wholesalers' modest facades, they actually control the wholesale supply of scent, as they possess the finest materials inside. Grenouille smells that these people live in luxurious family homes at the back of the buildings.
Here, the reader is reminded that scent isn't a source of power for Grenouille alone. Perfume and scent are entire economies unto themselves, and people profit (financially) from the sale of perfume. These people, then, are accorded a great deal of power according to the social mores of the time (and within the scent-influenced world of the novel). Further, these wholesalers are attempting to "pass" as modest perfumers with their downplayed fronts. This mirrors Grenouille's desire and attempt to pass as normal, despite possessing immense and inhuman power.
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
Grenouille stops in front of one of these camouflaged fronts, having caught wind of a scent like something he's smelled only once before. He considers forcing his way into the front of the building, but decides to find a way along the back, walking along the wall of the city, which forms the back walls of the street's gardens. After a minute, he finds the smell coming from the building's garden, and blood rushes through Grenouille's body and he experiences a sort of attack, losing his sense of where he is and finding himself back on the rue de Marais in Paris. The scent coming from the garden in Grasse is the scent of the girl he murdered in Paris, and he finds tears of bliss in his eyes to have rediscovered the scent.
Despite the number of years since Grenouille murdered the girl from the rue de Marais, her scent holds immense power over him still. Grenouille's newfound knowledge of dealing with people and taming his more brutal instincts is apparent in his decision to not force his entrance into the house, but rather to go about finding the scent in a more covert manner.
Themes
Power and Control Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Grenouille, dizzy, sinks into a crouch against the wall. He inhales short breaths and finds that the scent here in Grasse is somewhat different, although this girl is certainly a redhead like the last girl, with white skin and freckles, but this one is still a child. Grenouille thinks that this child, barely beginning puberty, already smells better than the girl from the rue de Marais, and once she reaches adulthood, her scent will be overwhelming to everyone, man or woman.
Note the amount of power that Grenouille asserts this girl will have in adulthood. This plays into the idea again that scent is all-powerful, and the color of this girl's hair begins to provide evidence for the idea the redheaded girls and women have the best and most powerful scents (or at least to Grenouille).
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Grenouille decides he must possess the girl's scent and "peel it from her like skin," not destroying it like he did with the girl from the rue de Marais. He thinks that he doesn't yet know how to do this, but he has two years to learn. Grenouille stands and moves on, entering the town from another gate and rationalizing that he can't return to the garden, as the scent is too exciting for him. Rather, he must throw himself into learning how to extract scent.
Grenouille's choice of language is grotesque and visceral, which creates both a sense of disgust in the reader and foreshadows the violence to come. It seems likely that Grenouille will be successful in this endeavor, but the reader isn't yet sure exactly how.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
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.
Perfume.pdf.medium