Pretending Not To Care
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “What does nihilism mean? That the highest values devaluate themselves. The aim is lacking; ‘why?’ finds no answer”. Nietzsche reasons that when a society values anything—an object, a person, or a philosophy—it becomes a challenge to see who can obtain it, and those who cannot, form this idea that the value is pointless. He goes on to say that while those who cannot obtain it may act like they don’t care about this value, they still ask ‘why?’ to try to understand why others see its value, but are never able to and are rejected by their society. Grendel and the Anglo-Saxon society are an example of this. While the Anglo-Saxons went about their life, Grendel watched from a distance.
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As Grendel listened, he explained, “The man had changed the world, had torn up the past by its thick, gnarled roots and had transmuted it, and they, who knew the truth, remembered it his way—and so did I” (Gardner, 43). Grendel knows the “real story” but that doesn’t matter because the Shaper was so convincing that Grendel had this feeling that the Shaper was right. Grendel also said that he wasn’t the only one who remembered the story differently, but they, too, believed it happened as the Shaper said. This one, minor incident shows that Grendel and the Anglo-Saxons are capable of agreeing, it’s just a matter of finding someway—or someone—to communicate to each other. This lack of understanding leads to Grendel being rejected from their society. Even though Grendel is rejected, he still wants to be a part of their society, even if he acts like he doesn’t care. Being shunned was not something that only happened to Grendel. It is part of the Anglo-Saxon way to get rid of those who are not seen as fit for their society. An old teacher was talking to Hrothulf, Hrothgar’s son, about how their system works. Explaining the order of importance of certain groups of people, he said, “Rewards to people who fit the System best…till you come to the people who don’t fit at all. No problem. Drive them to the darkest corners of the kingdom, starve them, throw them in jail or put them out to war” (Gardner, 118). As the quote explains, those who don’t