Literature Study GuidesDuneBook 1 Section 13 14 Summary

Dune | Study Guide

Frank Herbert

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Dune | Book 1, Section 13–14 : Dune | Summary



Book 1, Section 13

Still in the command headquarters, Duke Leto Atreides meets alone with Thufir Hawat shortly after the staff meeting. The duke instructs Hawat to destroy the Harkonnen spice stockpile and fills him in on Paul's message about a possible traitor in their midst. Hawat reluctantly shares with the duke the fragment of an intercepted message saying the duke will be betrayed by a "beloved" person. Hawat thinks this could mean Jessica, but the duke disagrees, saying the note is inconclusive. However, Duke Leto agrees to play along as if he suspects Jessica in case the note is an attempt to undermine his love for her. Hawat also reports the Fremen believe Paul may be a messiah because they have a prophecy saying "a leader will come to them, child of a Bene Gesserit, to lead them to true freedom." After this meeting the duke goes outside and watches the sunrise.

Book 1, Section 14

At breakfast with Paul, the duke tells his son he is going to pretend to suspect Jessica of plotting against him to make the Harkonnens think their plan to cast suspicion on her has succeeded. His hope is to "smoke out" the real traitor. He says if anything happens to him, Paul can tell Jessica he never really suspected her. The duke also gives Paul a report on the religion of the Fremen so he will understand why they have begun calling him "Mahdi" and "Lisan al-Gaib." Paul suspects these terms have something to do with his terrible purpose and the possibility he is the Kwisatz Haderach.

The duke then despondently describes the precarious situation they are in, taking a defeated tone as he points out Paul may need to leverage the religion of the Fremen to rule Arrakis if something happens to the duke.


These sections, which follow directly after the staff meeting, focus on the three members of the duke's immediate family: Jessica, Paul, and the duke himself. The duke, shaken by the attempt on his son's life, the continual fighting against Harkonnen forces still on the planet, and the ongoing political maneuverings, seems resigned to the fact he is not going to live much longer. He keeps talking about himself as if he were already dead. One of the most interesting things about Herbert's narrative choices in Book 1 is that from the earliest sections it is known the duke is not going to make it. Dr. Yueh's betrayal, the Reverend Mother's words "for the father, nothing," and the general sense of doom among the duke's advisers make this outcome clear. Dramatic irony—when readers know more than the characters—creates suspense and a sense of fatalistic tragedy. This is similar to the way Shakespeare uses dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet, for example; the tragic outcome is known. Readers watch the duke's demise unfold with a sense of the inevitable.

This tragic foreknowledge tugs at the theme of destiny. But the theme is perhaps more developed through the contrast of the duke's downward spiral with hints at Paul's ascendancy. Paul, after all, feels a terrible purpose that may be related to a potential identity as Kwisatz Haderach. The Fremen, because of their prophecies and legends, begin to call him "Mahdi," a name translated in the "Terminology of the Imperium" glossary as "The One Who Will Lead Us to Paradise." They also call him "Lisan al-Gaib," translated in the same glossary as "The Voice from the Outer World," a messianic, prophetic figure who comes from another planet. So while his father's desperate attempts to outwit the Harkonnens seem to lose steam, Paul's own trajectory rises.

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