John Gardner’s “Grendel”

Today we looked at a selection from John Gardner’s 1971 novel, Grendel. In novel, Gardner retells the story of Beowulf from Grendel’s perspective. Click here for the selection we read.

We sought to answer a few different questions:

  • Aside from the obvious issue of perspective, how are the two accounts of the battle similar? How are they different?
  • What new insight do we get into Grendel’s character?
  • What insight do we get into Beowulf’s character?

As an in-class activity, I asked you to find the central idea of Gardner’s Grendel. Then explain how that central idea is conveyed through literary elements and techniques.  That should have been emailed to me before the end of class.

Finally, we discussed The Nemesis Assignment:

Due on Friday 3/10
Your Assignment: Create a story like John Gardner did with Grendel. Tell the story of the final confrontation between the hero and his or her “nemesis.”
Your story should be between 2-3 pages, double-spaced, and should be narrated by the “nemesis” figure. You may use a “nemesis” from one of the works we have read in class (Humbaba, the Cyclops, etc.), or from any book or movie that features this sort of showdown between hero and nemesis.
All papers must be uploaded to
Don’t forget: Mockingbird Monday on Monday (Chapters 9-16)
Vocabulary Test on Tuesday.