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Dune | Study Guide

Frank Herbert

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Dune | Book 3, Sections 40–41 : The Prophet | Summary

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Summary

Book 3, Section 40

Under the influence of a meal heavy in spice Paul dreams memories in a timeless state. He dreams of Chani and his son, Leto II. He dreams of his mother warning him religion and politics should not "travel in the same cart." When he awakens from his dream, he realizes today is the day he will be tested. He will have to show he can ride a sandworm. Stilgar advises Paul how to mount up on the worm using the maker hooks, and another Fremen, Shishaki, allows Paul to use his own hooks. The first step is to plant a thumper and wait for the worm to arrive. Paul does this, and soon sees the signs of a worm coming his way.

Book 3, Section 41

Jessica performs her religious duties—including the blessing of a newborn baby—but her mind is on Paul's test. Harah and Alia, the daughter born to Jessica with all the memories of a Reverend Mother, enter. Alia's strangeness, as a grown woman in a child's body, has made her something of an outcast. Then Tharthar, one of Stilgar's wives, arrives. She is concerned about what will happen when Paul passes his test. The Fremen will expect him to challenge Stilgar to single combat. Everyone agrees they are better off with Stilgar alive. In fact Harah has decided to become one of Stilgar's wives and leave Paul available for Chani. Jessica privately worries about what will happen when Paul must marry a noblewoman for political reasons.

Analysis

The riding of a sandworm—becoming a sandrider—is a milestone among the Fremen, so the test Paul undergoes is not just to see if he can safely travel by this method. A successful ride will mean he is a true Fremen. It will mean he is a man and a leader. The downside of a successful ride is that all the Fremen will pressure him to immediately challenge Stilgar for the role of leader. This is the way things are done among them. Paul wants to change this. So even as he seeks to join the Fremen fully, he is thinking about ways to change them.

Paul's spice-induced memories make it clear he and his mother have already discussed the methods Paul is using to change the Fremen. She admonishes him with a Bene Gesserit teaching: "when religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way ... They ... forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it's too late." This is somewhat odd coming from Jessica, who as a Bene Gesserit has used religion to gain authority among the Fremen herself. Perhaps she feels caught up in the blind rush and cautions Paul as a way to slow it down. In any case Paul argues the opposite side: "Religion unifies our forces. It's our mystique."

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