I understood that the world was nothing: a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears. I understood that, finally and absolutely, I alone exist. All the rest, I saw, is merely what pushes me, or what I push against, blindly—as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back.
Grendel has this revelation while the
bull attaks him in Chapter
This revelation marks the transition between Grendel’s innocent, ignorant childhood and his adulthood as a student of philosophy. Having come to understand the world as a pitiless chaos that fails to provide a moral code or ethical system to guide his actions, he begins to question how he should live his life. This moment also marks a transition into adulthood in the sense that it causes a split between Grendel and his mother. Earlier, Grendel has understood himself as part of his mother, not as an individual being in his own right. When he is stuck in the tree, he looks for his mother to emerge from the shadows around him. If he sees her, then he believes the madness and confusion he sees will return to a sense of order. Grendel’s mother never arrives, however, forcing Grendel to accept the responsibility of creating order himself.