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Dune | Book 1, Section 7–8 : Dune | Summary

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Summary

Book 1, Section 7

On Arrakis, in the city of Arrakeen, Lady Jessica stands among the stacked boxes of their possessions and surveys the interior of her new home. As she unpacks she considers her feelings about the move: fear and homesickness. The duke approaches. They discuss how to make the huge, cold mansion feel welcoming.

The duke thinks briefly about his concubine's mysterious ancestry (the Bene Gesserit keep the ancestry of their sisters secret) as he admires her beauty. The duke tells her security measures are in place and that he has hired Fremen servants, including a head housekeeper called the Shadout Mapes. He reveals that there are legends among the Fremen of the Bene Gesserit. Jessica chalks these legends up to the "Missionaria Protectiva"—Bene Gesserit agents who plant prophecies among the peoples of the galaxy to help the Bene Gesserit if they are ever in need.

After Duke Leto leaves, the Shadout Mapes comes in to see what Jessica's orders are. During their conversation Jessica leverages the Missionaria Protectiva legends and her own astute observations to impress the Fremen woman. She speaks in an ancient language and reveals she knows many things about Mapes, including that she carries a weapon and intends to kill Jessica if Jessica does not pass a kind of test. Mapes hands over a knife, which Jessica identifies correctly (and a little accidentally) as both a "crysknife" and a "maker." Mapes takes this as fulfillment of one of the prophecies and says Jessica is "the One." Through clues in Mapes's dialogue, Jessica discerns the prophecy is one about the coming of a Reverend Mother.

Book 1, Section 8

Jessica visits Paul in his rooms but finds her son asleep and Dr. Yueh there. The two adults discuss how the population of Arrakis may resent the riches of the Atreides household and the possibility House Atreides could become wealthier from spice mining. Inwardly, Dr. Yueh again regrets he must betray them, but his purpose is fortified by thinking of his wife: "Wanna might not be dead. He had to be certain." He also thinks about another betrayal he is planning: "I must stand before that black baron with his deed accomplished, and take my one chance to strike him where he is weakest—in his gloating moment!"

The two also discuss the water situation on Arrakis. Evidently every time water is found, the source dries up. It is a mystery. They also both acknowledge the planet is a Harkonnen trap and there is likely to be conflict soon. After the conversation, Dr. Yueh again feels regret for what he plans to do. Jessica observes that Yueh is holding something back but tells herself she should trust her friends more.

Analysis

These two sections follow Jessica as she speaks with the duke and the Shadout Mapes, followed by Dr. Yueh. Through these interactions more details about the Bene Gesserit, the Fremen, the relationship between Duke Leto and Jessica, Dr. Yueh's betrayal, and the political situation on Arrakis are revealed.

Politically, House Atreides is in a precarious position due not only to the Harkonnen plot but also because the limited natural resources on Arrakis play such a large role. Spice, of course, is an important export of the planet; in fact, it is the only export. On the planet, however, water is by far the most precious resource. Something as simple as water used to grow palm trees on the Atreides grounds can create resentments that will interfere with winning over the inhabitants of Arrakis. If the Atreides want to succeed in aligning the Fremen against the Harkonnens, they will need to see the value of water as the Fremen do. This is difficult for people who have come from a planet where water is abundant.

The extremely thorough machinations of the Bene Gesserit are the main topic of Section 7, which is introduced by Princess Irulan's writings about the Missionaria Protectiva. This is a division of the Bene Gesserit that plants prophecies among various peoples and planets in case these are ever beneficial to one of their sisters/agents who might be operating among those peoples. There are multiple prophecies, and different ones are planted in different places. How this might work out in practice is illustrated in the interaction between Jessica and the Shadout Mapes. Jessica, of course, already knows from the duke that there are prophecies among the Fremen having to do with the Bene Gesserit. Mapes, it becomes clear, has taken the position of housekeeper mostly to get close to Jessica, in order to find out if she is part of the fulfillment of a specific prophecy. Through her own training in observation and her knowledge of the various prophecies that might have been sown, Jessica is able to pass the test—and survive—by convincing Mapes she is "the One" to whom the prophecies refer. Jessica's interaction with Mapes also brings out important details of the peculiar physiology of the Fremen. When Jessica cuts Mapes—as she must do to avoid the blasphemy of sheathing a crysknife unblooded—she discovers Fremen blood clots with extreme rapidity. This shows the Fremen's adaptation to their desert home and the importance of water in the desert.

The Missionaria Protectiva's prophecies develop the theme of religion and politics; the Bene Gesserit have been shown thus far to be largely political, despite their use of religious-sounding titles such as Reverend Mother. Now it is clear the Bene Gesserit use religion to further their political goals—taking advantage of the existing religious climate of a people to plant stories that may be useful in the future. These prophecies also develop the theme of power and control, as their intention is to endow Bene Gesserit sisters with power and ultimately serve the end goal of the Bene Gesserit: to control the future.

The interactions between Jessica and other characters bring up the issue of relationships between men and women, one way the theme of humanity is developed in the novel. Jessica's status as the duke's concubine—not his wife—is explained in more detail. The duke notes she is free of certain duties, such as appearing at his side at dinners and other functions, because she is not his wife. Dr. Yueh is curious as to why Jessica never made the duke marry her, and she says it was to leave the duke free to marry for political alliance if that became desirable. So it becomes clear that marriage is not an arrangement one makes for love, necessarily, at least among the ruling class. A male leader may have a politically advantageous wife and a concubine who is more of a companion or lover, though with an official status. The subordinate role women seem to play in marriage and government, of course, is juxtaposed with the powerful role women have through the Bene Gesserit. But the overall system defines the sexes sharply.

Section 8 offers an example of tragic irony—the use of dramatic irony to create a sense of tragedy—in the interaction between Jessica and Dr. Yueh. The reader knows Dr. Yueh is the traitor. When Jessica feels uneasy about Dr. Yueh because he seems to be keeping a secret or leaving some information out, the reader knows this feeling is completely justified. Yet she tells herself she should be more trusting. The reader knows this is a big mistake.

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