Grendel Chapter 2
Grendel talks to himself, though no one can understand him and he himself thinks of it as more automatic than intelligent. He remembers how he used to explore his cave when he was very young. He discovered a secret door, guarded by snakes, and when he went through the door the snakes didn't bother him. This is how he discovered the world outside. He explored farther and farther. He looked at the other creatures living in the cave, and decided that only his mother really cared about him or loved him--though sometimes he didn't understand the look in her eyes, either. Sometimes he would get so disturbed that he would throw himself at her, and though they fought, she also held him to her body as though she loved him. Sometimes he felt mature and confident. Other times he felt confused and afraid.
One morning, he'd been out much longer than he expected to be, and got his foot caught in between two trees. He cried for his mother, in terrible pain. He was terrified and angry that he would die and no one would even remember him. He desperately needed his mother, but she didn't appear. A bull approached, angry because Grendel was near his calf. Grendel thought this was silly: "Bulls do such things, though they don't even know that the calves they defend are theirs." Chapter 2, pg. 20 Grendel was afraid--if he were free he could kill the bull easily, but right then, he was defenseless. But when the bull charged him and hit his knee, Grendel understood that the bull was only acting instinctively: there was no strategy to its attack. All Grendel had to do was pull his leg out of the way at the last moment, and he would be safe. Musing, Grendel decides that there is no such thing as an objective reality. People create their own realities from their hopes and fears. "I create the whole universe, blink by blink." Chapter 2, pg. 22 He is his own god--he created himself and the world he lives in.
The bull charges over and over, and Grendel doesn't even care if he gets hit anymore. He sleeps, and thinks about his mother. He wonders what he means to her. That night, he sees men for the first time. He is confused by the crowd, then realizes they are speaking his language, though with a strange accent. They are small and annoying, and they move mechanically. The men (who are Vikings) puzzle over Grendel. They decide he is some kind of fungus. Grendel is frozen, watching them. They decide not to chop him out of the tree, because they think he is a spirit. They decide to feed him pigs, and he laughs suddenly. This frightens them. They don't understand him when he speaks, and though he wants to say they're crazy, his words come out like moans. The king (Hrothgar) throws an axe and Grendel cries out in pain. Afraid, the men surround him, and he realizes they are intelligent and rational--and therefore very dangerous. They are about to kill him when they hear his mother coming, her screams terrifying. He wakes up back in the cave, and tries to tell her what has happened, but she just stares at him. He wonders if she ever knew how to speak. He thinks of reality as a pointless conflict between himself and the world around him. He thinks about what he knows: his mother's fur is bristly, and she smells like wild pig and fish. She clutches him to her. They struggle, and he is afraid as he hears her heart all around him.