Perfume

Perfume

Perfume Part 4, Chapter 51 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Grenouille travels by night. When he passes the Plomb du Cantal he considers returning to the mountaintop, but decides that life there in solitude, as well as his life with people, is unlivable. He wants to go to Paris and die. Grenouille still carries a flacon of his perfume. He used only a drop in Grasse, and knows he could enslave the world with what he has left. However, Grenouille realizes that while the perfume can inspire love in others, it can't make him able to smell himself, and if he can't know himself through smell, life isn't worth living. He thinks that he's the only person the perfume can't enslave.
Grenouille is entirely disillusioned with life as a whole, as he's discovered that despite his immense power and control over the realm of scent, it's impossible for him to truly know himself in the only way he values. At this point, while he still hasn't accomplished acquiring truly a human scent, Grenouille can be said to have “come of age.” He simply knows that he can't know, and thus, his life is over.
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
On June 25, 1766, Grenouille enters Paris early in the morning. It's a hot day and Paris already stinks. Grenouille wanders around and settles near the Cimetière des Innocents, watching the landscape of graves and bones. After midnight, once the gravediggers leave, the cemetery comes alive with murderers, thieves, and prostitutes. Grenouille leaves his hiding spot and joins the group around a fire.
Remember that Grenouille was born near this cemetery. It was his birthplace, and it's becoming obvious that it's also going to be his place of death as well. Grenouille also has completed a full geographic circle, making this place even more fitting as his place of death.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Grenouille unstoppers his perfume and pours it over himself. For a moment, the group falls back in awe, but then they are drawn in to Grenouille. They surround him, and finally begin attacking and tearing at him. They hack at him with knives, divide Grenouille's body, and eat it. Within a half hour, Grenouille is completely gone. When the cannibals reconvene after their meal, they say nothing in their embarrassment. They grow happy and then proud, and smile at each other, knowing that they've done something out of love for the first time.
Grenouille only used a drop of his perfume in Grasse, and the effect of the rest of the bottle is infinitely more intense (and brutal) than the orgy incited in Grasse. The crowd becomes like Grenouille himself in their frenzy, so incited by passion that they kill and physically possess (by eating him) the object of their desire, destroying it in the process. Notice that Grenouille not only destroys himself as he truly comes of age, he destroys his power as well. His perfume can't be used by anyone else now that it's gone, and while Grenouille lived on hate alone, in death, he managed to inspire love in those who never truly felt or acted on it before, signifying even further the power of his perfume and of scent in general.
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