Grendel Chapter 4
Twelve years later, the Shaper sings sadder songs: songs about how even rich kings like Hrothgar are unhappy when so many of their men are killed by Grendel. The people are burning their dead from the last time Grendel attacked. But still, they have not given up hope. Grendel believes that the Shaper built this kingdom: by singing about a great and powerful meadhall, he gave the people the inspiration to build one. Once it was built, the Shaper sang again about its greatness. Grendel listened, knowing the whole thing was ridiculous, but believing it nonetheless. "My heart was light with Hrothgar's goodness, and leaden with grief at my own bloodthirsty ways." Chapter 4, pg. 48 He knew those men, who pretended to be so bonded to each other, were capable of killing each other over almost nothing: he'd seen them do it. Yet he began to think that maybe the Shaper had changed them. He tried to figure out what to believe, and suddenly felt like the forest was mocking him. He began to think out loud, but felt self-conscious and arrogant. He wondered if the Shaper was just using his songs to gain power at the court. He tried to believe that the songs were just pretty melodies: they hadn't changed anything. But he felt that the Shaper sang as though he was meant to sing those very words. Thinking that the Shaper might be a good man after all, Grendel was terrified and confused. He felt paranoid, as if he were being watched by something out to get him. Then Grendel went toward the town, and the feeling disappeared.
He watches the townspeople talk and play games. Everything seems nice and innocent, but Grendel is bothered by something vague. Then he steps on a body: someone has cut the man's throat. Grendel picks the man up and listens as the Shaper begins to sing again. He sings about how the world was formed by the greatest god. "He told of an ancient feud between two brothers which split all the world between darkness and light. And I, Grendel, was the dark side...I believed him! Such was the power of the Shaper's harp!" Chapter 4, pg. 52 Grendel cries, though he knows that the corpse he carries is proof that there is no light or dark side, and there is no such god. Nevertheless, because of the song Grendel runs to the meadhall, trying to make peace with the people and become friends with them. They try to kill him. He has no choice but to fight back. He runs away, crying, and swears at them with the words he learned from listening to them. He screams, but thinks it sounds silly and stops. He wants to talk to God, and asks the stars why he has no one to talk to. They don't answer, and he tries not to be offended. He at first thinks that everyone else has people to talk to, then decides he is wrong. If Hrothgar and the Shaper really want to create a peaceful, powerful kingdom, and be remembered for it, they will be disappointed, he thinks. No one else in the town understands these goals. They just want to fight and get rich. Grendel begins to think that this might not be true--the townspeople might be influenced by the king and his singer--but he knows in his heart that they are doomed, and it makes him happy.
Grendel cannot stay away from the Shaper's performances. The Shaper sings about Grendel's recent "attack"--Grendel says all of it is lies, meant to make the Danes feel important. Yet it makes him angry in a way he does not understand. He keeps thinking that maybe the Shaper's version of history is true: he can't shake the thought, and he feels like it's coming from outside of him--it feels older and darker than himself. He feels the presence pulling him in. He brushes off the idea, and goes home. His mother is irritated that he hasn't brought any food, but he is busy thinking about the Shaper. It is a lie, he knows, that a god created the world and separated it neatly into good and evil, light and dark. But what if the Shaper's songs could make the story true? Grendel realizes he wants it to be true, even if he has to be the evil side. He looks at his mother. She scratches at herself and tries to speak. Grendel is disgusted, and tries to ignore her. He goes to sleep, then later wakes up suddenly, knowing that the presence he felt earlier has returned. He gives in to it, and goes to the dragon