Summary: From Paul and Jessica going to Sietch Tabr to the end of Book II

The drug had him again and he thought: So many times you’ve given me comfort and forgetfulness.

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The Fremen lead Paul and Jessica to Sietch Tabr, the home of Stilgar and his particular troop of Fremen. There, Paul and Jessica discover that Kynes, who is the Liet to the Fremen and Chani’s father, is dead. At the sietch, Paul meets Harah, Jamis’s wife, who is now bound to marry or serve Paul. Her sons are also entrusted to Paul’s care. Paul accepts Harah as a servant, though not as a wife. Harah takes him through the sietch, which the tribe will soon have to abandon now that the Sardaukar are hunting them. Life goes on as usual in the sietch: even as they prepare to leave, children are taking classes and workers are preparing programs, including a plan for a system of dew collectors, to run in their absence.

The Fremen hold a ceremony, welcoming Jessica into the clan as their reverend mother and replacing their old one, who will soon die. As part of the ceremony, Jessica is required to drink a strange liquid from a sack. Using her Bene Gesserit powers, Jessica turns her mind inward and chemically transforms the poison into a safe liquid. The liquid in the sack touches her mouth, and a chemical reaction spreads through the sack, making the liquid safe for Jessica to drink.

While the ceremony continues, Jessica feels trapped within herself. The dying reverend mother comes before Jessica, embraces her. The reverend mother then allows her spirit to be absorbed into Jessica’s body and mind. With the mother’s spirit comes the entire history of the Bene Gesserit and humanity itself, back thousands of years, even before the rise of the Bene Gesserit. At the same time, the unborn child inside Jessica is flooded with the same memories and awareness, and only Jessica’s love prevents the child from going insane.

Jessica tells the Fremen to drink the water from the sack so that they may enjoy the heightened awareness that will come from the melangelike liquid. Chani leads Paul away, and they presumably make love.

Analysis: III: From Paul and Jessica going to Sietch Tabr to the end of Book II

The spice drug’s effect on both Jessica and Paul raises their awareness to unnatural dimensions. In the case of Jessica, the drug allows her to converse with and then absorb the spirit of the previous reverend mother. At the same time, Jessica incorporates the spirits of all reverend mothers before her and absorbs all their memories. The inclusion in the novel of drugs leading to mind-altering situations is not surprising, since Herbert wrote Dune in the 1960s, when drug experimentation was entering the mainstream consciousness of America. These drugs, however, seem to have beneficial effects—namely, they heighten intellectual as well as sensual awareness. Jessica is able to read the memories of thousands of years of Bene Gesserit and find some meaning in their history. The spice drug, in such a pure form, allows Paul to see the “gray turmoil” of his future more clearly than ever before. Melange’s effects suggest the delicacy of Paul’s balance between two sides. He sees the Harkonnens and the emperor and the Bene Gesserit on one side, and the Fremen on the other, with himself walking a careful line between them.

Read more about the symbolism of melange.

Melange also heightens the awareness of the unborn child inside Jessica, suggesting that Alia will also have to cope with superhuman powers. Both of Jessica’s children, Alia and Paul, do not experience a normal childhood. Even in the womb, Alia is conscious of herself and her place in the history of the universe. She is never an innocent child, but instead she is born with the knowledge of all the sins, problems, and pains of the past. As a result of Alia’s precocious behavior, others see her as unnatural or evil.

Herbert’s description of Alia reminds us of the concept of original sin. God banished Adam and Eve from the paradise of Eden because they did not obey him and ate the fruit of knowledge. According to Christianity, people are born with this “original sin,” the sin of Adam and Eve. Alia’s birth embodies the original sin, as she is literally born with the knowledge and collective consciousness of humanity. The name Alia is also significant in the Judeo-Christian tradition. To make an aliyah is to go up toward God. The birth of Alia is the fulfillment of Jessica’s belief in the Bene Gesserit, a religion. Thus, Jessica goes before her religion and presents them with her Alia. Alia, with her supernatural knowledge of the universe, is almost godlike in her abilities. We will learn later that Alia plays an important role in helping the Fremen transform their planet into a paradise, an Edenic world.

Read more about inheritance as a motif.