Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

what are two things other than a cat grenouille tries to preserve the smell of?

with baldini

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How does the author explain Grenouille's fascination for the scents of girls of a certain age and type? How does the description of these girls dehumanize them?

Answer: Grenouille perceives that pretty young adolescent girls smell better than any other human beings. He is, within the realm of the novel, correct. The scent he concocts from the essences of their newly dead bodies enchants everyone around him. For some reason, the look of a girl seems to be correlated with the quality of her personal scent; this seems illogical, but it serves a purpose in this novel, suggesting that beautiful girls seem beautiful primarily because of their smell. The chemical composition of the girls Grenouille kills is what ultimately makes them attractive; especially for him, personality, character, and actions are of no consequence. The girls themselves, and their purpose in the novel, are reduced to nothing but their odors; they are not people but merely attractive smells which dominate all other things, including reason, the other senses, and judgment. Only the "normal" townspeople and the girls' parents see them as humans, but for the most part, we see the girls through Grenouille's perspective.


A corollary to the premise that scent is nearly tyrannical--determining a great deal of how people treat each other--is that adolescent girls have the best scents. This idea is further refined with the perception that beautiful girls have better scents than other girls, and with those of the red-haired type having the finest. It is also maintained that these teenage female scents are appealing to everyone, not simply heterosexual males.


Are you referring to the novel?

I'm quite sure that Grenouille does not try to preserve the smell of a cat (I think you're referring to the movie made in 2006).

Chapter 19 of Perfume (english translated version)

"It wasn't long before he had become a specialist in the field of distillation... Every plant, every flower, every sort of wood, and every oil-yielding seed demanded a special procedure... Many things simply could not be distilled at all – which irritated Grenouille to now end... He succeeded in producing oils from nettles and from cress seeds, toilet water from the fresh bark of elderberry and from yew sprigs... But there was also substances with which the procedure was a complete failure. Grenouile tried for instance to distill the odour of glass, the clayey, cool odour of smooth glass, something a normal human being cannot perceive at all.... All without the least successs. He distilled brass, porcelain and leather, grain and gravel. He distilled plain dirt. Blood and wood and fresh fish. His own hair..."

He does extract the scent of a PUPPY later on in the novel, but that is through enfleurage and not with Baldini (he was already in Grasse).

Do read the novel, it is truly worth it.


Chapter 19 of Perfume by Patrick Süskind