When Beowulf is fighting Grendel, why aren't his followers able to help him?

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gbeatty is right as always.
There is, however, the sense that even if they were able to help, Beowulf would have wanted to fight the beast alone. He is the one that is desirous to "win fame for Higlac" and himself. He wants the fame that comes with defeating this monster.
This is the same reason he wants to fight the dragon in the end. Fame for himself, not his army.

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Good question. Remember when Grendel broke into the hall earlier and killed so many soldiers? Grendel has such strength and power that he's essentially invulnerable to attack by weapons. Therefore, the followers can't really help Beowulf; only he, the hero, is strong enough to fight Grendel bare-handed.

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