How a persons nurturing and upbringing triumphs over the natural way of being, in relation to Grenouille in Perfume and the society in Chronicle for a Death Foretold.
Every living thing has a natural way of being. Be it a plant which will naturally incline toward the sun or a nocturnal animal which will only come out at night, all living things will have a expected way of behaving, and this does not exclude human beings. However, this original way of existence can be infringed by the location and culture in which a human being is brought up in, as well as the occurrences which take place during said person’s life. The following essay shall show how the upbringing which Grenouille received in Perfume (First Published in German1985. First Translated in 1986) by Patrick Sï¿½skind (German born March 26, 1949 – Present Day) affects the unfolding of the events in the book, and how the way the society is cultivated provokes events which ultimately cause Santiago Nasar’s death in Chronicle of a Death Foretold (First Published in 1981. First Translated in 1982) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Spanish born March 6, 1927 – Present Day)
In the commencement of Perfume, we firstly see how Grenouille acts in the natural way that any living thing would, but as Grenouille’s life develops, while he is being brought up by different care takers and different mentors, we can see certain crucial moments in his life which shed light in explaining why Grenouille becomes the way he does. At the start of his life, his first care-taker instantly takes an enormous disliking toward him. We see this when she speaks to Father Terrier, she constantly makes remarks about how the child is strange and insults him on various occasions for example saying “he is possessed by the devil”1. Perhaps, even though a baby, he still understood this because of a baby’s natural way of interpreting things, whereby people’s emotions and thoughts reflect a certain aura around the person, and small babies see these auras. Therefore, the first person he ever lived with seemed to be continuously disgusted by Grenouille, and alas may have already commenced the creation of his complex; his hate and disgust for humanity. Father Terrier later on also shows his disgust for Grenouille as he makes Terrier shudder and feel “sick to his stomach”2, and as Buisse does, he “wanted to get rid of him as quickly as possible…immediately if possible”3 and ergo abandons him.
The previous is, what I believe the beginning of Grenouille’s detestation for humanity, and this is further induced when he lives with Madame Gaillard who in a sense treats him like a pet in the manner in which she feeds him, serving “up three meals a day and not the tinniest snack more”4. We can assume that his residence was overcrowded with orphans due to the fact that “Paris produced over ten thousand new…… orphans a year”5 and I imagine that these children were dirty and smelt. This simple situation is addition to the occasions where the children “conspired to suffocate him”6 may have been one of the things which cause Grenouille’s misanthropy, as when he becomes an adult, he despises the smell of humans and he also hates being around them. Here we see how the lifestyle in which Grenouille grew up could possibly cause the deterioration of his natural instincts as the dislike of being around others is against the natural law of survival whereby animals naturally seek safety in groups. Grenouille on the other hand prefers being in solitude as we see later on in the novel where he lives secluded from humanity on “the mountain of solitude”7 inside a cave in which “never in his life had he felt so secure”8. (I don’t know if that last phrase is grammatically correct)
All the above incidents involving interactions with others occur during the first twenty or so, and I believe that Sï¿½skind does so intentionally in order to instantly show the reader the arduous upbringing which Grenouille endured, and by doing so, Sï¿½skind instantaneously causes the reader to feel sympathetic for Grenouille, so that, later on in the novel, we do not detest him, and, on some plain understand where all his malice and misanthropy came from.
In relation to living in secluded areas, it is my belief that he loves this, partially due to the hatred of living in with people, but also at consequence of how he lived with his mentors. When he stays with Grimal, he is again treated as a pet, as he lives in a confined space, with no light as he was “locked up in a closet…… where he slept on the hard, bare earthen floor.”9 This is almost identical to how he lived in the cave where “it was pitch black night even during the day”10 and slept “at the end of the stony corridor…wedged between the rocks”11 on the ground. This is akin to how he lived with Baldini, and is another factor which shows the way Grenouille is nurtured destroys a human’s natural way of being, as everything on this planet needs the sunlight to survive. We clearly see the destruction of this natural trait when he lives in the cave “for seven long years”12 only coming out to “relieve himself of urine and excrement”13
One other comparison between Grimal and Baldini is the way they treated Grenouille; they never showed any loving emotion and only used him as a tool for their destination (earning money). Grenouille then mimic this, and as he was raised without people valuing him as a person but instead as a tool, he too imitates this by not appraising the lives of the 25 girls he murders, but instead using them as a tool for his destination (the perfume).
Sï¿½skind does all the previous to show the reader the destruction of natural human traits and animal instincts by how Grenouille is brought up in order to show us that Grenouille is on some level supernatural due to his nurturing, as well as to aid us in understanding why he does what he does.
One of the main similarities between Perfume and Chronicle of a Death Foretold (here forth CDF) is that both novels are situated in a catholic community, and both Grenouille’s and the community’s (in CDF) actions are completely contrary the natural way a catholic should act.
A catholic society should naturally be against the killing of anyone, but this is not what we see in relation to the homicide of Santiago Nasar as the Vicario twins completely disregard catholic mandates and slaughter Santiago. The whole occurrence is caused once the twins are told that Santiago robbed Angela Vicario of her virginity, and therefore they feel obligated to redeem her by committing a “homicide in legitimate defense of honor”14 This is due to the society of which they live in where a family’s name is extremely important, and once the truth of her innocence loss is revealed, the brother’s must do something in order to regain the family’s honor, even if it is against catholic edict
The previous is because the society has molded the Vicario brothers to believe that it is their duty to forget about their natural manner of being. Not only has society molded the Vicario twins, but it has done likewise to others. A large verification of the previous is seen when the priest is not in disaccord with the murder as when the twins openly confess what they have done, the claim that “they are innocent”15 and the priest replies “perhaps before God”16, to which the twins respond, “Before God and before men…it was a matter of honor.”17 This clearly shows the whole way in which these three men have been brought up has usurped the natural way a catholic should act due to the fact that the twins believe that a killing in the name of honor is a valid reason to overlook one of the Ten Commandments. What truly shows how society transforms an individual’s natural path is the response seen by the priest, where we see a man of God believe that God would see the murder as justifiable.
Another incident involving an unnatural catholic trait is seen when Divina Flor confesses that the true reason her mother had not told Santiago that He was going to be killed is “because in the depths of her heart, she wanted them to kill him”18. This is because Santiago, on various occasion made sexual advances to Divina Flor, and this would trigger a memory of her mothers where Santiago’s father would do likewise to Victoria Guzman’s (Divina’s mother). We can therefore see how a previous event in Victoria’s life caused her natural catholic ideology to disappear, as she breaks one of the Ten Commandments, and wishes ill upon someone.
Note: the above paragraph has been removed as I believe it isn’t completely relevant, but u have left it there in order to see what you opine about it
Garcia shows this breech in Catholic standards in order to show the inexistence of natural religious and moral codes which have been usurped by the society’s cultural upbringing. To further implement this lack of religion, Garcia shows the coming of the bishop as a joke, whereby “he wont even get off the boat…he’ll give an obligatory blessing…and go back…he hates this town.”19
To conclude the triumph of upbringing over natural instincts, I will take a look at the influence of sex in both novels. Our animalistic instincts tell us, there is no rule in not having premarital relations. This is what Angela does; she acts naturally, while society expects her to not fornicate until she is married, as everyone is nurtured with the idea that a woman must remain innocent until unified in matrimony. On the other hand, we do not see the same train of thought when referring to a man. Santiago clearly did as he pleased as he tells Divina Flor “the time has come for you to be tamed.”20 With this we see that the society has been nurtured into a hypocritical way of thinking where society sees in undignified for a woman to act naturally while a man can do as he pleases. This contrasts with how Grenouille as he has the opportunity to do as he pleases with a female, but he only does what he needs to reach his destination. Again Grenouille’s natural instinct had been usurped by his upbringing whereby he was nurtured by Baldini and Grimal to not deviate from his path no matter what.