546 Authors often have to choose between concentrating on either plot or social commentary when writing their novels; in John Gardener's Grendel, any notion of a plot is forgone in order for him to share his thoughts about late sixties-early seventies America and the world's institutions as a whole. While Grendel's exploits are nearly indecipherable and yawn inducing, they do provide the reader with the strong opinions the author carries. This existentialistic novel can be seen clearly as a narrative supporting nihilism in its many forms. Most easily, the reader will be able to see the blatant religious subtext in the guise of corrupt priests and the foolish faithful. There is also some negativity placed on the notion of the old being the wise. Gardener deems hero idolization unacceptable as well; knowledge that the Vietnam War was prevalent at the time gives additional insight into his complaints. Religion plays a large role in Grendel. Priests do not want to perform their services without the proper payment which, in turn, causes the rich to be able to
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