Throughout the novel Grendel by John Gardner, the main character Grendel is searching for answers about life, most importantly the meaning of life. He is confused with how he wants to view life and searches for some reason to why he exists. He turned too many for these answers; his mother, man, and the dragon, but no one could provide Grendel the answer he so desperately sought, all just pushed him to the idea of existentialism.
Grendel’s first impression was to ask his mother about the meaning of life and what was his part in it. After Grendel’s first encounter with man, he immediately told his mother what had happened. “I tried to tell her all that happened, all that I had come to understand: the meaningless objectiveness of the world…She only stared troubled at my noise”. However, she had lost her ability to speak years ago and only responded with gibberish, not once giving him an answer. Instead when he said, “the world is all pointless accident…I exist nothing else”, she hurried over and seized him pulling him close to her. Realizing that his mother probably doesn’t understand, Grendel was forced to turn to some one else for the answers he needed, so he turned to man.
Grendel became fascinated with man at an early age. He watched as their population grew, he watched the wars they waged, and the celebrations they had at night. He watched their senseless killing, their wastefulness, and he learned some new words from them. He seemed to look at man as his teacher and deep down it appeared that he wanted to become a man himself for they had found some kind of meaning. He did make a couple of futile attempts to befriend man. Often he approached the exiled, but in the end he “had to eat them for they wer...
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...nt of life is. He tries to seek out answers from various people, all of which leave him with no definite answer. His mother seems incapable of comprehending such a question and avoids it altogether, man tries to kill him, and the dragon using what he deems to be comprehensible logic only confuses Grendel. Towards the end of the book Grendel returns to his original idea of existentialism, which he stated in the beginning of the novel. “I alone exist, All the rest, I saw, is merely what pushes me, or what I push against, blindly – as blindly as all that pushes back.” Thus, Grendel continues believing in his concept of existentialism and goes on with his killing until he becomes the prey of Beowulf and is killed. He never comes to understand that it is sometimes better to accept life and live it, rather than spending your entire life trying to analyze the meaning of it.
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