Relationships In Grendel

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In any work of literature, the relationships between characters, those positive or negative, relate to a larger theme represented by the work. In John Gardner’s Grendel, the maternal interactions between Grendel and his mother serve to illuminate the main theme of the book; isolation causes one to feel a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness. While it is apparent that his mother demonstrates maternal interactions, Grendel’s relationship with his mother is hindered by her inability to verbally communicate, her beastly nature, as well as Grendel’s misinterpretation of her love for him. Perhaps the most obvious reason for Grendel strained relationship with his mother is her lack of communication skills. According to Grendel, “She’d forgotten…show more content…
Instead of understanding she loves him unconditionally, Grendel claims “even my mama loves me not for myself… but for my son-ness, my possessedness” (158). He believes he gives her power by being her son and this is her sole reason for loving him. On several occasions, Grendel’s mother stands between him and the cave door. Grendel assumes she is trying to keep him locked up, but in reality she is trying to protect him (147). He does not understand this example of maternal interaction is a representation of her motherly instincts and unconditional love for him. He thought, “I was, in her eyes, some meaning I myself could never know and might not care to know” (23). Because he never understood he actually meant something to her, he believed all of life was pointless. The sense of emptiness Grendel experiences causes him to feel even more isolated and meaningless. The relationship between Grendel and his mother is one that portrays the importance of maternal interaction and its effect on one’s emotional well-being. For Grendel, although his mother attempted to interact with him, it was not enough to convince him he was not alone in the world. Grendel continued to feel isolated from everyone even though his mother truly loved him. His prolonged feelings of loneliness prove that in order to avoid seclusion and worthlessness, one must establish stable and effective relationships with those around him or
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