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Literature Study GuidesDuneBook 3 Sections 38 39 Summary

Dune | Study Guide

Frank Herbert

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Dune | Book 3, Sections 38–39 : The Prophet | Summary



Book 3, Section 38

It is now two years later. Baron Harkonnen storms into an antechamber where his guard captain, Nefud, is deep under the influence of semuta, a narcotic. Angrily, the baron demands to know the location of Feyd-Rautha, whom he considers a grave danger to his life, being his heir. Nefud says Feyd-Rautha is likely in the slave quarters with the slave women. This makes the baron even angrier. But what makes him the angriest of all is a slave boy who was sent to him for pleasure with a poison needle embedded in his skin. It turns out Feyd-Rautha planned this assassination attempt.

The baron asks his nephew why he didn't try to kill him with his own hand rather than sending the slave boy. "You taught me that my own hands must remain clean," his nephew replies. So the baron offers Feyd-Rautha a bargain: stop trying to kill him, and in due time he will step down and allow his nephew to take over. He suggests he has a plan to usurp the emperor's position using the Mentat Hawat. The baron also remarks there is a new religious leader among the Fremen called Muad'Dib, but neither make much of this.

Book 3, Section 39

The baron talks with Hawat about the emperor's concern that there is a connection between Arrakis and the imperial prison planet, Salusa Secundis. Hawat suggests the emperor uses the prison planet as a source of Sardaukar. Hawat estimates the Fremen population at 10 million and notes they are already used to harsh conditions—just as the Sardaukar on Salusa Secundis are. The baron is astounded by the number.

Then the baron recalls his conversation with Count Fenring and remembers he mentioned making Arrakis his own prison planet. Fenring had reacted strangely to this. Hawat deduces this comment has drawn the emperor's attention to Arrakis and advises the baron to abandon and denounce Rabban. This will pave the way for the baron (or his nephew) to step in and take control of the planet and its Fremen. Secretly, Hawat suspects some of the Atreides may have survived on Arrakis.


It seems Feyd-Rautha has learned his lessons from the baron well. He is just as bold and just as ruthless. He has his own plots and schemes. And like the baron he doesn't take the Fremen seriously. Throughout the novel various advisers have expressed concern about the Fremen. But the baron has never taken them seriously. His arrogance proves to be a big mistake. When he finds out there are 10 million Fremen on Arrakis, and the planet is, like Salusa Secundis, a harsh environment perfect for forming soldiers, he is astonished, but only because he's been ignoring clues for a long time. He still doesn't understand fully, however. He underestimates the power of a popular religious leader. Religion is one method of controlling people the baron has not tried, and so he does not understand its potential power.

Although Hawat is in the pay of Baron Harkonnen, he doesn't reveal his suspicions that some Atreides may have survived. This suggests he is not entirely converted and still harbors some loyalty to House Atreides. One flaw in the baron's methods of control is these methods also make the controlled dislike him. They may hate him, like Yueh, or just resent him, like Feyd-Rautha. But because he does not win their love, he makes it more likely they will betray him.

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