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Literature Study GuidesDuneBook 1 Sections 15 16 Summary

Dune | Study Guide

Frank Herbert

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Dune | Book 1, Sections 15–16 : Dune | Summary



Book 1, Section 15

The imperial ecologist/planetologist Dr. Kynes is to be the Judge of the Change, the person assigned by the emperor "to see that the forms are obeyed in [Atreides's] assumption of power over this fief." He is taking the duke and some of his men to see a spice mining operation. Kynes is introduced to Duke Leto and Paul, and they discuss the stillsuits Kynes sent for them to wear into the desert. During the discussion Paul quotes a verse from the O.C. Bible—"The gift is the blessing of the giver"—and Kynes thinks to himself of one of the legends: "They will greet you with Holy Words and your gifts will be a blessing." And when Kynes checks the adjustment of the stillsuits and explains how they work, he finds Paul's has been adjusted in the Fremen way, reminding Kynes of more words from the legend: "He shall know your ways as though born to them."

Flying over the sandy surface of the planet, Kynes and the duke have a tense conversation about Kynes's role as imperial officer and planetologist. The duke wants access to imperial bases on the planet, but it is clear this is not something Kynes is willing to facilitate. As they near the spice mining crawler, Kynes warns "Wherever there is spice, there are worms" because worms routinely attack spice mines and are drawn to shielding. When asked if there is a relationship between worms and spice however, he hedges. A question about why the worms are not simply killed if they attack spice gets a similarly hazy answer, leading Paul to conclude "If there's a relationship between spice and worms, killing the worms would destroy the spice."

Suddenly the duke sees "wormsign" approaching the crawler, and they call ahead to warn the workers on the crawler. The duke's men help the workers evacuate, and they watch as a huge worm emerges from the sand and swallows the crawler. Afterward, Kynes murmurs "Bless the Maker and His water," and one of the rescued men whispers "Liet."

Book 1, Section 16

Back at the Atreides mansion Duke Leto Atreides arrives for a formal dinner. Lady Jessica, Paul, Kynes, Duncan Idaho, a smuggler invited by Jessica, and many of the planet's nobles and wealthy merchants have gathered. The duke learns the Harkonnens had a custom of splashing water on the floor, throwing towels on the puddle, and allowing the poor to scramble for the water squeezed out of the towels. The duke decides to change this to a more dignified custom—simply giving away water. The duke also suggests he will be investigating how to use weather controls to change the climate to provide more water. Hearing this, Kynes thinks of more legendary words: "And they shall share your most precious dream." He asks Jessica, "Do you bring the shortening of the way?" She is startled, knowing this phrase is a translation of "Kwisatz Haderach."

At dinner a representative of the Guild Bank asks questions about the lost spice crawler, and Jessica's observational skills and training allow her to infer he is a Harkonnen agent. Subsequent conversation turns to Fremen customs, and Kynes reveals that in Fremen culture, "all of a man's water, ultimately, belongs to his people." He also suggests that with enough water collected, they could start ecological processes that would allow Arrakis to have precipitation. Throughout the conversation Jessica notices Kynes treats certain of the guests with a great deal of respect—even fear.

A messenger arrives with a message for the duke, who abruptly leaves. Shortly afterward Jessica receives a message from him saying a shipment of Harkonnen lasguns was intercepted, but it is possible other shipments have gotten through.


The political intrigues are ongoing—Harkonnen agents seem to have infiltrated the guild; the Harkonnens on Arrakis continue to make the transition anything but peaceful. But for the most part these sections are dominated by the enigmatic Kynes and the mysteries of spice production. Kynes, supposedly an imperial scientist, has clearly taken on Fremen ways and is a true believer in their religious teachings. As such, he has all kinds of secret knowledge.

Kynes has secret political knowledge. He knows about the collusion between the Harkonnens and the emperor and is somehow in on the betrayal of the Atreides. As Section 15 opens, Kynes reflects on his first meeting with "the people he had been ordered to betray," the Atreides. Kynes begins to believe Paul may be the fulfillment of the Fremen prophecies, and he is genuinely impressed by the duke's moral compass. By the end of the section he is conflicted about the role he plays against House Atreides: "Against his own will and all previous judgments, Kynes admitted to himself: I like this duke."

Kynes has secret Fremen knowledge. Paul uses "hyperawareness" to note that Kynes carries a hidden knife as well as other details of his appearance that signal Kynes has "gone native," becoming Fremen even though he is an imperial scientist. Kynes is obviously quite familiar with (and devoted to) the religious beliefs of the Fremen, and seems to hold a position of fearful authority among them—one even appears to call him "Liet." He reveals Fremen attitudes toward life, death, and water, noting "when you live near the Great Flat ... All water's precious there, and the human body is composed of some 70 percent water by weight. A dead man, surely, no longer requires that water." He reveals a secret hope that Arrakis "could be an Eden if its rulers would look up from grubbing for spice!"

Kynes has secret scientific knowledge born of his understanding as Fremen and as a planetologist. He hedges about the amount of water on Arrakis but says he believes there is enough to change the climate of the planet, if used correctly. He also clearly understands more about the relationship between worms and spice than he is willing to admit, which hints at some grand connection.

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