A Brief and Simple Analysis of Chapter Two of Grendel

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(Beginning in paragraph two of Chapter 2, and continuing throughout the chapter, Grendel describes how he used to be as a child. How does this description compare or contrast with the behavior of the humans when they are fully-grown?)

In chapter two of Grendel, John Gardner takes the readers into a deeper aspect of Grendel’s life. Most specifically, this chapter revolves around the childhood life of Grendel. Readers are able to access the mind of Grendel as a child, through a chapter that is almost entirely structured as a flashback to the situation that, arguably, may have transformed the typical ‘kid’ into the man-eating beast one was introduced to in Beowulf. However, Grendel isn’t to blame for his future actions, for his entire existence was tarnished when his young, impressionable mind was altered. Grendel’s innocence as a child was robbed, as with all children, when a new understanding of the world’s harshness was grasped. It almost seems, however, that Grendel’s behavior as a child is mirrored in the “fully-grown and adult” humans he despises so much. Throughout the chapter, Grendel seems to place himself on a risen, intellectual pedestal, with the humans he deems childish roaming blindly and stupidly hopeful far below.

As observed through history, the Anglo Saxons were a war like people, with religious seafaring clans that pledged themselves to an invisible greater-power and who traveled far and wide in their seafaring explorations. These traits are identical to Grendel’s memories about his childhood, “I used to play games when I was young….explored our far-flung underground world…..an endless wargame of leaps…whispered plotting with invisible friends…childish games…”. When Grendel looks out to the humans, he can’t help but recognize his own childhood ways in their lifestyle. The humans’ endless praying and constant adventure is laughable in Grendel’s eyes because it reminds him of his own past existence before his hope and innocence...
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