Why does Beowulf allow Grendel to slaughter one of the Geats before taking action himself?
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Beowulf wants to see how Grendel operates before attacking himself.
Your question is worded in such a way that it assumes Beowulf was somehow okay with one of his men being sacrificed to Grendel's perverse penchant for killing innocent people. That just doesn't ring true: Beowulf doesn't allow one of his men to be slaughtered by Grendel. It just happens. This does seem to be the one misstep Beowulf makes in an otherwise amazingly successful campaign against terror. Of course he would rather his friend hadn't died; however, Beowulf certainly got the appropriate revenge after his friend's death.
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