Grendel

How was Grendel's mother and his relationship?

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In Chapter Two, Grendel reflects on his childhood. He used to play games in the subterranean home he shared with his mother. He would attack and hide from shadows as he explored the myriad caves. He discovers the pool of the fire snakes, which he learns cannot hurt him despite their green flame. Through the pool, he discovers a doorway leading to the surface world—his first emergence is at night under a bright moon. He begins ranging everywhere on the surface, always careful not to stray for too long or to be seen, but one day he accidentally catches his ankle between the boles of two strong oak trees. Trapped, he wails for his mother but receives no reply.

A nearby bull, defending a calf, attacks Grendel, but Grendel learns how to avoid its charging horns after the first, painful encounter. Once eluding the bull’s attacks becomes routine, Grendel experiences an epiphany: he is alone in the world and creates his own reality. Eventually Grendel falls asleep from exhaustion and blood loss and awakens to find the bull has moved on. Later, a group of men—the first Grendel has ever seen—arrives. The men cannot initially tell Grendel from the tree branches, thinking him some strange growth upon the dying tree. One among the men, a bald man with deep black eyes, declares Grendel a tree spirit and seeks to feed him. Grendel attempts to communicate with the men (whose speech he understands), but his words come out as howls and frighten the men. One among them, the leader (Hrothgar) throws an axe at Grendel, but Grendel evades it. They are considering doing harm to Grendel when his mother arrives, frightening the men away. She rips the trees apart, freeing Grendel, and takes him back to their underwater home.

Grendel attempts to communicate his feelings and experiences to his mother, but she either cannot understand him, cannot communicate with him, or does not care. Grendel returns to his earlier epiphany: he is the sole being in the universe and creates his own reality.

In this chapter, we come to see the relationship between Grendel and his mother as beastial. She is protective but little else. There is no real mother/child relationship between the two, or at least the kind of bond we would normally expect.

Source(s)

http://www.gradesaver.com/grendel/study-guide/summary-chapters-1-and-2