But deer, like rabbits and bears and even men, can make, concerning my race, no delicate distinctions. That is their happiness: they see all life without observing it.

As Grendel reflects on the fact that he dislikes deer but likes cows, he notes that the animals he thinks about—deer, rabbits, bears, and men—cannot decide whether they like him or other animals because they have no thoughts or opinions about the world. According to Grendel, this lack of knowledge serves as the key to their happiness. Grendel believes that his unique awareness of the world makes him unhappy.

Two nights later I went back. I was addicted. The Shaper was singing the glorious deeds of the dead men, praising war. He sang how they’d fought me. It was all lies. The sly harp rasped like snakes in cattails, glorifying death. I snatched a guard and smashed him on a tree, but my stomach turned at the thought of eating him.

After Grendel first hears the Shaper singing in the hall, he keeps going back to hear more. Even though he feels enraged by how the Shaper misconstrues history, he cannot help being drawn in by the songs, even though hearing the stories causes him anguish. Grendel almost seems to enjoy suffering at the hands of the Shaper, even though the Shaper does not know he is causing this suffering. In addition, the anger Grendel feels at hearing these lies makes him cause others, in this case the guard, to suffer in return. The violence seems to function like a way for Grendel to release some of his inner anguish.

Futility, doom, became a smell in the air, pervasive and acrid as the dead smell after a forest fire—my scent and the world’s, the scent of trees, rocks, waterways wherever I went.

After Grendel talks with the dragon and comes to realize that fate is irreversible, he feels a sense of futility and doom everywhere he goes. Even though Grendel’s life felt unpleasant before he spoke with the dragon, now that he knows he has no control over the course of his life, he is suffering even more, and he knows his situation will never get better. His reaction to such a truth indicates that while he may have wanted to know the truth about fate, he felt slightly happier before the dragon revealed the truth, when he still had the ability to be hopeful.