Simple Summaries


John Gardner

Sarah Frank


·       Loyalty—celebrates a warrior’s culture and kinship to his king and tribe. 

·       Bravery—Just like the heroic code –also the character Unferth(unbrave). 

·       Importance of art and storytelling—Much like the Bard in the Odyssey and Penelopiad. Whose story do we believe? 

·       Conflict between traditional heroic ideals and existentialist philosophy. 

·       Fate versus Free will 

·       The use of astrology in the novel. Each chapter of Grendel is associated with a sign of the zodiac. Connect each chapter to its associated sign  


Chapter 3

·       Gemini –look for doubles

o  “Food was plentiful. Every sheep and goat had its wobbly twins, the forest was teeming, and the first crops of the hillsides were coming into fruit”

·       He reflects on the growth of humankind and how they developed

·       He knows they are cruel

o  “It didn't matter to me what they did to each other. It was slightly ominous because of its strangeness--no wolf was so vicious to other wolves--but I half believed they weren't serious.”

·       He mocks war and how bloody and futile it is. They make it sound so bold and brave but it’s DUMB

·       Grendel is sicked by men, war, and lies

·       Poor Grendel has to watch the “Advancement” of men

·       Along comes the bard, a story teller, that comes to Hrothgar’s mead hall

·       The bard makes Grendel confused about his opinions and philosophy

·       He goes soft a little!

o  I was so filled with sorrow and tenderness I could hardly have found it in my heart to snatch a pig!

·       Identity crisis

o  “Thus I fled, ridiculous hairy creature torn apart by poetry--crawling, whimpering, streaming tears, across the worldlike a two-headed beast, like mixed-up lamb and kid at the tail of a baffled, indifferent ewe--and I gnashed”


Chapter 4

·       Cancer

·       Old Testament


What Grendel is looking for:

·       Who he is

·       What is real

·       What philosophy is right

·       What to believe


Why he hates men:

·       They’re dumb

·       They’re selfish

·       They’re violent

·       They areas selfish and violent as Grendel but hate Grendel



·       It’s about finding who you are and what you believe

·       John Gardner explores personalities and philosophies



·       Beowulf comes along and shows Grendel the reality of being a hero



·       Search for identity

·       Fall into knowledge



POV: allows us to feel for Grendel



Poetic language

Varied structures


Author’s impact: Shows that humans are selfish and violent