Grendel Chapter 10
Grendel is driven crazy from waiting. He feels the dragon in the earth, hears the young priest yelling praise for the gods, and learns that the Shaper is sick. A goat approaches Grendel's lair, and he tells it to go away. It doesn't listen, so he throws stones at it. Though he breaks its skull open and knocks it down several times, the goat does not give up. Its instinct is to climb, so it keeps climbing. Grendel keeps throwing rocks.
Grendel watches the town at work. People farm, cook, and build. He hears a woman tell a story about a man who lives across the sea, a man as strong as thirty of their men. She says that one day, he will come to their town. Grendel appears in this quiet, country scene, killing some of the children. He sees the whole thing as a cycle. "So it goes," Chapter 10, pg. 142 he says.
The Shaper is very sick. People wait on him, and he asks for a woman who does not come. Grendel is pleased that the old man, who once so easily manipulated him, is now helpless. He assumes that everyone sitting at the Shaper's bedside is just waiting for him to die. The Shaper begins to speak about the future of the Danes, but before he can come to the point, he dies. Grendel looks in on a woman in a nearby house. She is the one the Shaper wanted to see. Grendel knows that sometimes he sang his songs for her. But she is married, and nothing ever happened between them. Grendel suddenly has the urge to kill the woman, but he resists it. He looks again at the Shaper, who is being prepared for his funeral. Unsatisfied, he finally returns home.
At home, Grendel is irritated with his mother. She seems disturbed and crazy, sometimes walking on two legs, sometimes on four. She doesn't want to let him leave. She tries to speak, but always fails. Grendel, however, is thinking deeply about the Shaper's death. He no longer feels the same about history. He now thinks that history does not exist: there are only moments in time, one after the other. There is only now. He thinks about how he used to love his mother, when he was small, and how he should have killed the Shaper long ago. He goes to the funeral. His mother tries to stop him, and for a moment he thinks she knows something that he doesn't, but then he dismisses the idea. She is upset, but "I will forget, tomorrow, so her pain is a matter of indifference." Chapter 10, pg. 147
The young Shaper's assistant, who is now an adult, sings at the funeral. He sings a song the Shaper sang many times, about a man who becomes king of his enemies, because in war he has killed their king, and they have killed all his people. Eventually, the people turned against their new king. Hrothgar's men listen to the song with blank faces. As they burn the Shaper's body, Grendel knows that he and the king are alone again, the way they were before the Shaper came.
The next morning, Grendel wakes up suddenly. He thinks he can still hear the mountain goat trying to climb to his cave. His mother is making upset sounds, and he strains to understand: Beware the fish, she says, or seems to say. He feels like something is about to happen, though he thinks he knows nothing will. He feels the dragon again, and he feels conflicted, too: he should sleep until spring. He feels vaguely afraid. Then he thinks he's being silly. He says, "Nihilo ex nihilo," Chapter 10, pg. 150 nothing from nothing.