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Literature Study GuidesDuneBook 1 Sections 9 10 Summary

Dune | Study Guide

Frank Herbert

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Dune | Book 1, Sections 9–10 : Dune | Summary



Book 1, Section 9

Paul, who had only pretended to sleep while his mother was there, waits for his mother's footsteps to disappear down the hall before getting up. Suddenly the headboard of the bed opens up and a small "hunter-seeker"—a motion-tracking lethal weapon—emerges. Paul uses his knowledge of how such weapons operate to catch and immobilize it, just as the Shadout Mapes comes to tell him his father has sent for him. Because Paul saved her life (the weapon sensed her movement as she opened the door), Mapes repays him by telling him the Fremen know there is a traitor in the Atreides household.

Book 1, Section 10

While the Shadout Mapes goes to tell Paul his father wants to see him, Jessica finds a secret conservatory filled with wet-planet plants such as roses. In this room Jessica finds a note addressed to her. It is from Margot Lady Fenring, another Bene Gesserit and the wife of Count Fenring, previous occupant of the mansion. Jessica recognizes in the note a Bene Gesserit code phrase, "On that path lies danger," and so she searches for a secret message. She soon finds this message. It tells of a threat to Paul's life involving his bed, as well as a threat to the duke that "involves defection of a trusted companion or lieutenant" and the Harkonnen plan to give Jessica "as a gift to a minion."

As Jessica rushes to leave the conservatory Paul bursts in holding the hunter-seeker. She tells him to immerse it in the water of a fountain. Once it is deactivated Paul tells his mother what Mapes said about a traitor, and Jessica tells Paul about the message she found. They discuss whether the traitor could be Hawat, Yueh, or someone else. Before they leave the conservatory Jessica notices signals—flashes of light—being sent in the distance. She assumes these are signals between Harkonnen forces.


The incident with the hunter-seeker is a reminder that Paul is the ducal heir and, as such, has received training in accordance with this role: how to fight, how to avoid assassination, and how to govern. This is important to keep in mind, because it is easy to focus on his more mysterious role as potential Kwisatz Haderach. However, the fact he has been groomed for a position of authority is important in understanding future events in the plot and his character arc.

This incident also brings about an interaction between Paul and Mapes in which Mapes first feels indebted to Paul for saving her life then repays him with information that could save his life. The transaction gives insight into Fremen culture. It is a culture in which fairness is valued, and a certain amount of accounting—who owes whom—is the norm. However, money is not the only currency. Other resources—water, information, loyalty—are more important.

The vast influence of the Bene Gesserit is further glimpsed as Jessica finds a secret message meant just for her. The message shows the sisters of the Bene Gesserit are adept spies, employing intelligence gathering and communicating in various codes. Like Paul, Jessica has multiple roles and layers. She is important both genetically and for her role as the duke's concubine and Paul's mother. But she is also an agent with the training in lock picking and secret codes one would expect from a spy.

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