Literature Study GuidesDuneBook 3 Section 48 Summary

Dune | Study Guide

Frank Herbert

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Dune | Book 3, Section 48 : The Prophet | Summary



At his father's mansion in Arrakeen, Paul takes care of post-battle business and awaits the arrival of the emperor. He intends to marry the emperor's daughter, Irulan. When the emperor arrives, he brings Feyd-Rautha and Count Fenring (among many others). Paul is concerned, because he has not seen Fenring nor Feyd-Rautha in his visions. He thinks this could mean they are responsible for his death. Paul and the emperor trade threats, but Paul's threat to destroy spice production hits home with the guildsmen present, giving Paul the upper hand.

Hawat sees the error of his ways and asks Paul's forgiveness, which Paul grants just before the old man dies. The emperor's Reverend Mother admits Paul is the Kwisatz Haderach. Then Feyd-Rautha challenges Paul to single combat, and Paul kills him—but not easily. Finally the emperor is forced to give in to Paul's demands. Paul says he will marry Irulan but keep Chani as his concubine. He promises to make a paradise of Arrakis, preserving part of the planet as a desert so that spice production can be maintained. All seems to have ended well.

But the Reverend Mother sees the future, and what she sees is jihad.


Though the peril from galactic forces—the emperor, the houses, the Spacing Guild—is over, there is still peril from certain individuals, such as Count Fenring and Feyd-Rautha. The roles of both these characters in the novel's final events relate to important themes of the novel. Paul's inability to see Fenring in his visions, and thus the danger he poses to Paul, stems from an earlier Bene Gesserit failure to produce a Kwisatz Haderach. Fenring is genetically a eunuch, which the novel with its preoccupation with gender presents as being neither male nor female. The lack of gender makes him invisible to Paul's future sight. Individual choice is also of importance, as Fenring's choice to disobey the emperor allows Paul to live and ultimately leads to the emperor's abdication. Showing Paul's future sight to be limited at a crucial moment highlights the humanity of Paul, who otherwise could be seen as an invincible, godlike individual. Paul, who often has blind spots in his vision around moments of crisis, must face a final peril one on one. His vulnerability is evident in the narrow escape from this final confrontation. While his victory over Feyd-Rautha puts to rest this danger, it is another reminder that power rests in individuals as well as in empires.

The conclusion of the story revisits some of the elements introduced in the first sections. Paul's role as the Kwisatz Haderach is confirmed by the same Reverend Mother who tested him with the gom jabbar. Paul's terrible purpose has become clearly linked to the jihad still looming in the future. The feud between House Atreides and House Harkonnen is finally concluded as Paul kills the baron's heir and becomes emperor. Jessica's role as concubine to Duke Leto is echoed in the arrangement Paul makes with Irulan and Chani.

The last section also gives glimpses of what the future holds. Princess Irulan, seen for the first time as a character in the story, goes on to document the life of Paul Muad'Dib—excerpts of her various historical writings begin each section of the novel. And as the Reverend Mother sees, the wild jihad will come. But for the moment, there is peace.

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