Identify all the things that happen to Grenouille in these chapters that you feel either shouldn’t happen to a child or are insensitive. Explain or attempt to justify these events. Within the pages of the first few chapters, Grenouille’s birth and early childhood is narrated. Grenouille is coldly dismissed at birth. He was brought to the world, by his mother on heap of fish guts, only for her to abandon him. No child should ever have to endure such cruel rejection, no human should ever be left to die in such a grotesque manner.
Grenouille however survives and is placed under the care of a wet nurse, who put him into anothers arms in complain of him drinking too much milk and being too much of a liability. Grenouille was passed on from one wet nurse to another, never being shown any affection. He was not treated as a child should be, never allowed to received a mother’s love. The last wet nurse that was given the responsibility of caring for Grenouille, handed him over to Father Terrier, in accusation of the infant being a devil due to his lack scent.
She claimed he did not smell of a normal child, that he gave off no smell whatsoever. At the harmless age of a month, Grenouille was accused of being a monster. Father terrier however disregards the wet nurse’s absurd allegations. The novel progresses however, with Father Terrier wanting to rid the baby, as he felt Grenouille had violated him, almost as if he had the ability to penetrate his innermost thoughts, as if he could see what was within Father Terrier with his nose.
Grenouille was thrown around for the way he made people feel, however he never brought no harm upon people this early in the book. Father Terrier then puts him in Madame Gaillard’s orphanage. Here he was given a roof for a long time, however he was not welcome by the other children. Many attempts were made at his life, bricks were piled on him, in attempt to suffocate him, however Grenouille managed to survive each and every one of these attempts. Grenouille’s presence made the children feel uncomfortable, just as Father Terrier had felt.
There was a coldness, a darkness about Grenouille. However the attempts at murdering him, were made only on the basis of how Grenouille’s presence made the other children feel. Grenouille up till this point had not done anything wrong; he had caused no harm to any of those around him. A few years later however, Madame Gaillard no more received money on Grenouille’s behalf, and so sent him off to work for a man under harsh conditions. Here he contracted a disease leaving him a cripple, bearing permanent scars. Grenouille withstood all these things, a child should never deserve.
What is the significance about the context in which Grenouille is introduced in Part One Pg 16. Why does Father Terrier refuse the wet nurses accusations of Grenouille being a devil? “He’s possessed by the Devil” “Impossible! It is absolutely impossible for an infant to be possessed by the devil. An infant is not a human being, it is a pre-human being and does not yet possess a fully developed soul. Which is why it is of no interest to the devil. Does some evil stench come out from him? ” These are the words Father Terrier speaks in retort of Jeane Beusse, the wet nurse’s accusations.
According to Father Terrier, a devil would only possess one with a fully developed soul and has no interest in possessing an infant due to its lack of one. Father Terrier also believes in the devil carrying a foul odor, and hence the nurse’s claims of the baby being odd in that, his flesh carries no scent, only re-affirms his stand on the baby being ordinary, and unaffected whatsoever by the devil. Terrier believes, that the baby not smelling at all, a sign of good health. Father Terrier is also a strong believer of children being God sent, and hence them being possessed is completely out of the question.
Terrier also claims the olfactory sense a primitive one, a sense that cannot be trusted. “The fool sees with his eyes rather than his nose”. Pg 18. Is Father Terrier responsible for Grenouille? Father Terrier is not officially given the responsibility of taking care of little Grenouille, however takes it upon himself to care for him. In some ways he is responsible for Grenouille, as he took him in from the wet nurse, and so in a way is making a commitment towards caring for him. Therefore it is his duty to take care of him to the best of his ability.
Father Terrier also sympathizes with Grenouille as he believes a child should not be treated the way Grenouille was. Father Terrier also imagines himself being the child’s father, he feels sentimentally connected to the baby, adding to the responsibility he has over him. Pg 18. What do you make of the actions of the baby and Terrier’s response to it? The child awoke, his nose first. Little Grenouille perceived Terrier through his nose. It seemed almost as if the little infant was scrutinizing Father Terrier.
The baby’s actions seem as though he can penetrate Father Terrier’s innermost thoughts, as if he can see through Father Terrier’s exterior, see what he really is. Father Terrier feels violated, and feels ashamed, as this baby with no scent, who is innocent, sees through Father Terrier, a man with odor, as everyone at the time. The odor is used as a metaphor for what Father Terrier has to hide. The baby in his arms has no odor, and so has nothing to hide, however Father Terrier is odorous, hence explaining his sense of being violated. Forever crinkling, and puffing and quivering”. These are the words used to describe the baby’s nose after smelling Father Terrier. One crinkles their nose, and puffs air outwards, upon smelling something foul. As smell is used here as a metaphor of who Father Terrier really is, as the baby perceives him through his nose, the baby perceives him as someone who is foul and repulsive. Father Terrier is threatened by the baby, and feels uncomfortable in its presence leading to his hurried notion to find another to take care of the child.
Pg 20. ‘Gone was the homely thought that this might be… ‘. Explain what happens. 1. Pg 24. This is a challenging page. What does it infer about the teller of Grenouilles tale and his attitude towards him? How do you feel about Grenouille after this? 2. Pg 28-29. These pages relate to Grenouille’s language acquisiton. What is particularly noticeable about his vocabulary growth? 3. Pg 35. What happens to Madame Gaillard? What is ironic about this? Look particularly at the last sentence of Chapter 5.