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Literature Study GuidesDuneBook 2 Sections 23 24 Summary

Dune | Study Guide

Frank Herbert

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Dune | Book 2, Sections 23–24 : Muad'Dib | Summary



Book 2, Section 23

While Paul and Jessica spend the night in the tent provided in the Fremkit, a storm covers the tent in sand. In the morning they dig themselves out, collapse the tent, and begin to head south. Aircraft overhead propel them on with urgency.

Book 2, Section 24

Back outside Arrakeen, Thufir Hawat hides beneath a rock overhang as dawn breaks. A Fremen and a few Atreides soldiers are with him. Hawat is shocked at the size of the Harkonnen attack and the involvement of the Sardaukar. He still suspects Jessica was the traitor. He tries to negotiate with the Fremen to secure assistance, but the Fremen keeps making reference to a "water decision" that Hawat must make about wounded Atreides soldiers. The Fremen notes that Liet is curious about the Harkonnen explosive weapons—the artillery—and Hawat is amazed to learn the Fremen attacked the Sardaukar manning these weapons and successfully obtained a weapon as well as several captives.

When one of the wounded men dies the Fremen says it is a sign they should join tribes through the bond of water, and Hawat realizes this means the Fremen will reclaim and keep the water from the dead body. Unfortunately, a short time later the Sardaukar attack Hawat's hiding place.


Hawat's efforts to align himself and his remaining men with the Fremen is understandable, but his behavior here shows how little he understands them. First he is very slow to see how the value of water touches every aspect of their lives. He doesn't understand that the Fremen want him to decide which of the wounded men are worth saving given the scarcity and value of water. The "water decision" shows the Fremen value water over all other resources, even, in some cases, life. He also doesn't understand the importance of water as a community resource. As the Fremen explains, "A man's flesh is his own; the water belongs to the tribe."

The "bond of water" that can occur when the Atreides give the body of a fallen soldier to the Fremen helps Hawat along in his understanding, but then he is presented with a second shock: The Fremen are accomplished fighters and fierce warriors. They take down a band of imperial Sardaukar and even manage to capture one. They converge on a Harkonnen ship and capture it without trouble.

These feats astonish Hawat and all the Atreides troops, but their realization of the potential of allying with the Fremen against the Harkonnen comes too late to help them. The revelation of the military might of the Fremen, however, foreshadows events to come. An Atreides-Fremen alliance is on the horizon, but it won't happen the way Hawat envisions.

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