Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

by Patrick Suskind
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What is the significance of the horrific conclusion to Suskind's Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer?  What themes does it raise?

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A number of events occur in the novel's climactic ending. That Grenouille is first reviled and then loved by the crowds of people gathered to watch his execution shows both the fickleness of public opinion but also the extraordinary talent he possessed as a perfumer. The scents, made from the skin of virgins, entrance and excite the people so that they engage in a mob orgy: ironic given the terror instilled by the murders that went into the making of the scent. Grenouille eventually covers himself in the scent and returns to the slums where he was born, and the peasants in the street devour him until nothing remains. This suggests that neither Grenouille's fine clothes, nor his perfuming talents, nor his ingenious ability to fool the mobs of people and the court justices were any guarantee he would ever rise above his lowly birth.

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