Book II (continued)
From Paul and Jessica’s ride through the sandstorm to Paul’s meeting with Chani
“We must depend not so much on the bravery of individuals, you see, as upon the bravery of a whole population.”
After four hours of riding through the sandstorm, Paul and Jessica finally fly out and discover that Harkonnen ornithopters are no longer pursuing them. Paul lands their ornithopter near a large rocky area, and as they run toward the rocks, a sandworm appears and eats the ship.
Paul and Jessica trudge through the desert. They must rest by day and move by night to avoid heat exhaustion. They reach the end of the rocky zone and must cross open desert to reach the next one. While they are making their way down a slope, Jessica gets caught in a sandslide, and Paul abandons the pack to the sand to save her. He rescues his mother and, with great effort, recovers the pack.
Meanwhile, Gurney Halleck, the Atreides war master, has survived the Harkonnen attack, and he meets with Staban Tuek, the son of the now-deceased Esmar Tuek. Halleck decides to join the smuggler’s operation, hoping to one day use it to his advantage against the Harkonnens.
Paul and Jessica plant a thumper, a device that makes a rhythmic thumping noise, to distract the sandworm while they shuffle across the desert to the next rock zone—they must walk without rhythm so they do not attract the worm. They reach the rock zone, but are followed by the worm, which reaches over the rock’s facade and nearly catches them. Luckily, another thumper, in the distance, draws the worm away. At the top of the rock zone, Fremen accost and threaten them.
Elsewhere, Kynes stumbles alone through the desert without a stillsuit. The Harkonnens had left him to die. As he tries to walk, delirious from the heat, he imagines that his dead father—the planet-ologist for Arrakis before Kynes—is speaking to him. His father chides him for helping Paul and lectures his son on trying to educate the Fremen about their planet to help create great ecological changes on Arrakis. Kynes’s father also warns that a “pre-spice mass” is developing underground, which will soon explode and kill Kynes. A pre-spice mass is a stage in the growth of melange in which the spice explodes in order to get to the sun and air above ground and complete the melange cycle. The father continues his harangue, reciting the plans he made decades ago to change Arrakis, changes that Kynes had initiated during his lifetime. Finally, the pre-spice mass explodes, killing Kynes.
Back at the rock zone, the Fremen interrogate Paul. The wise leader of the Fremen introduces himself as Stilgar, who Paul has seen before. Keynes had ordered Stilgar to find Paul, but he is skeptical about taking Jessica as well. Jessica then pulls a knife on Stilgar and holds it to his throat, while Paul runs and hides in the shadows. Stilgar is impressed that Jessica is knowledgeable of the “weirding way,” a form of combat. Jessica notices the Fremen’s use of a language called Chakobsa and makes an assumption about their culture, guessing correctly that they will recognize the term gom jabbar. Stilgar makes a deal with her: if she will teach the Fremen this combat style, then Paul and Jessica can live with the Fremen. One of the Fremen is Chani, Kynes’s daughter, whom Paul has seen before in a dream.
Paul is destined to fill one of the most common roles in fantasy and science fiction: that of “the One,” the savior who will lead his adopted people to victory over their enemies. In the earth’s history, messianic figures are usually very passive: Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad were all fairly peaceful people, though much violence has occurred in the name of Jesus or Muhammad since their deaths. But in fantasy and science fiction, “the One” often leads his people to victory by using violence. Paul is acutely aware of the significance of his power and the bloody jihad that may be an unavoidable consequence of that power.
The interaction between the Fremen and the Atreides in this scene is complex. The characters often make references to a back history that has not been mentioned earlier and, sometimes, is never explained. For instance, Jessica manages to attack and subdue Stilgar, the leader of the Fremen. Jessica’s feat is impressive, since we have seen how easily the Fremen butcher the Sardaukar. We assume that Jessica’s supernatural abilities are based on her Bene Gesserit training, but this is unclear. After Jessica’s training is called the “weirding way” and we hear more about the Missionaria Protectiva, the Bene Gesserit mission to spread legends in the universe, we become even more confused.
Like the worlds in other major works of science fiction or fantasy, such as J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Herbert’s fictional world is rich in detail and back history, but that information is often only hinted at in the course of the novel. Tolkien integrates these hints within his story, and they do not distract us because the history of his made-up planet is similar enough to real human legends and folklore. Dune, however, is set against 10,000 years of human political history, including the development of a set of human beings with almost mystical abilities, known as the Bene Gesserit. Thus, it is common to feel disoriented while reading Dune. This does not mean that there are aspects of Dune that are impossible to understand. However, the novel requires focused attention to details and context clues.
Religion plays an important role in Dune because it helps establish and maintain traditions, even though the traditions themselves are fabricated.
A key tactical facet of the Bene Gesserit is the Missionaria Protectiva, which has planted “safety valves” throughout Arrakis. These safety valves are stories spread by a Bene Gesserit who went to Arrakis a long time ago. The stories included a tale about a savior who would lead the people of Arrakis to paradise. If a Bene Gesserit came to Arrakis many years later, she would be safe from harm. She would reference the old stories, and the Arrakis people would believe she was their savior. The Arrakis people believe that Jessica and Paul are their saviors and that they will help Arrakis become a lush, green paradise. The Bene Gesserit use these fabricated traditions to preserve and protect their people. Although their religious beliefs are made up, the traditions serve an important purpose in spreading the knowledge and power of the Bene Gesserit to other worlds.
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!