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.