Sociologists Jaber F. Gubrium and James A. Holstein have contributed to the formation of a constructionist approach to narrative in sociology. From their book The Self We Live By: Narrative Identity in a Postmodern World (2000), to more recent texts such as Analyzing Narrative Reality (2009)and Varieties of Narrative Analysis (2012), they have developed an analytic framework for researching stories and storytelling that is centered on the interplay of institutional discourses (big stories) on the one hand, and everyday accounts (little stories) on the other. The goal is the sociological understanding of formal and lived texts of experience, featuring the production, practices, and communication of accounts.
Hrothgar expresses the ephemeral quality of human life in beautiful terms. Calling Beowulf the “flower of warriors,” he employs an image that doesn’t evoke Beowulf’s strength and fortitude but instead emphasizes the fragility of his life and the fact that his youth—his “bloom”—will “fad[e] quickly.” This choice of imagery encapsulates the idea, implicit in this passage, that there are two “death[s]” that threaten the warrior. He must be prepared not only for a “jabbing blade or javelin from the air,” which will wound him, but also for “repellent age,” which will eat away at his youthful audacity and force him to think in terms of honor, nobility, and leadership that aren’t dependent on mere physical prowess.