Chapter 1 Notes from Grendel

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Grendel Chapter 1

Grendel, a large, hairy monster, watches a ram approach his cave. He tries to force the ram to go away, yelling at it and throwing rocks, but it just stands there stupidly. Grendel suddenly decides he doesn't care. He says that he is not close-minded like the ram: he is intelligent, learns from his past, and has complicated emotions. The ram's stupidity makes him very angry. "Not that I fool myself with thoughts that I'm more noble." Chapter 1, pg. 6 Grendel knows he is a murderer--he eats people and cows--and he sees nothing either good or bad about that. He thinks about how mindless the world is--the sky stares down at him, day after day--and about the people he's killed, year after year. Now it is spring again. A deer sees him and is terrified, and this insults him. He would never kill a deer: cows are meatier and easier to catch. No one, not even humans, understands what Grendel is really like. All creatures except himself and humans, in fact, is too simple to understand anything. Grendel is depressed by how similar each day is to the next. He knows spring is coming: he feels it even from the cave where he lives with his mother, whose stupidity and ugly body disgust him. He hates his own biological needs: he comes out of hibernation in spite of himself, hungry for blood. He goes out into the night, at first afraid of the darkness and the sound of his own howling. But then he realizes that the screams are just his own voice, and the landscape can't hurt him. He thinks about yelling some insult out into the night, and this cheers him up. He notices how everything is afraid of him, and he remembers how he used to enjoy that, when he was younger. He knows his mother is waiting for him. She seems disturbed, though she does not speak. Grendel thinks of her as a fool; he does not believe she thinks about anything. He used to believe she had some secret to tell him, but that was before the dragon told him the ugly truth.

Topic Tracking: Human/Animal 1

He comes to the meadhall (dining hall) of old King Hrothgar, as he has done every spring for twelve years. Everyone is fearfully expecting him. He takes several people and devours them outside, listening to the cries of those left behind. They think he has been sent as a curse, and they pray for him to leave them. He thinks this is ridiculous. He watches the Shaper, a blind musician, sitting alone, and sees that Hrothgar does not join the people in prayer. The people begin gathering the body parts Grendel left behind, so they can be burned at a funeral ceremony. They faithfully begin to rebuild the door Grendel tore down, as they have done every year since he has come. Grendel watches them restore their castle and honor their dead, and it infuriates him. He runs home.

Topic Tracking: Philosophy 1
Topic Tracking: Identity 1

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