Dunecember: End of the Story Discussion

J. Scott Campbell's Frank Herbert

Have you finished Dune(cember)?

I have. Let’s talk.

That was a crazy 50 pages. To recap: Paul decides to drown a sandworm larvae in order to taste the spice poison/liquor and determine, once for all, if he is the Kwisatz Haderach. He goes into a near-death coma for 3 weeks, awakens as if no time has passed. Suddenly he sees everything that’s happening–the emperor, the Guild, the Harkonnens are all on Arrakis, ready to crush the Fremen rebellion and reassert their authority. Paul realizes he has the control, because “He who can destroy a thing has the real control of it” and the spice is the key to everything his enemies want. So the Fremen go to war against the Emperor, under cover of a sandstorm. They nuke the shield wall and rush the emperor’s camp on sandworms. In the meantime, his son has been killed and Alia has been taken prisoner. She talks back to the emperor, scares the Reverend Mother, and kills Baron Harkonnen after she informs them that Muad’Dib is Duke Paul Atreides. Victory is quick and decisive. Paul makes a base in the home his family first settled in on Arrakis and allows the Emperor and his entourage an audience. Hawat, on the brink of death, talks to Paul and Paul offers Hawat the chance to assassinate him. Hawat refuses and dies. Paul threatens the Guild’s livelihood (space travel is impossible without the Spice, it seems) and has them call off their ships orbiting Arrakis. Jessica and Paul together browbeat the Reverend Mother, Paul almost killing her with a single word. Paul then calls out the last Harkonnen–Feyd-Rautha. Halleck desperately wants to kill him a Harkonnen, but Paul refuses, especially when Feyd-Rautha calls for kanly. With Paul welcoming the battle (he has foreseen this as the nexus beyond which his “second sight” is unlimited), they fight. Feyd-Rautha tries several tricks, but finally Paul stabs him through the head, killing him. Paul then narrowly averts a confrontation with Count Fenring (more on this below), and he decides that the best way to end the jihad before it begins is to become next in line to the throne by marrying the Emperor’s daughter. Chani, already distraught by the loss of their son, is unsure of this plan despite Paul’s assurance that they will never be apart. Jessica assures her that this is the best possible position for them with regards to love, and the book smash-cuts to black.

Yeah, so, a lot of stuff happened. It’s like Frank Herbert realized he was approaching his page limit and had all this stuff to fit in to the book, so he his crammed it in the end. At the same time, this quick action works really well; it would be agonizing to slowly plod through these scenes. We’ve already been given so much description and background on these characters (except for the relative unknown of the Emperor) that we can imagine all of this taking place without reminders of grotesque suspensor-held fat or inkvine scars.

As for the Emperor, he’s one of the few characters who comes out of the book as rather one-note. We get the idea that he holds Duke Leto in high regard, but the impression I got was that he was just a stereotypical spoiled royal.

The thing I wanted to talk about, though, was the connection between Paul, Feyd-Rautha, and Count Fenring. Since early in the book, we’ve been given the facts about the Bene Gesserit and their plan to breed the “male…whose organic mental powers would bridge space and time.” It seems Paul, Feyd-Rautha, and Count Fenring were three of the possible endpoints for the Kwisatz Haderach. Fenring loses out on his ultimate destiny because he was born a “genetic eunuch” which I took to mean that he was somehow considered not entirely male. He gets trained in the Bene Gesserit way, and Paul makes a connection with him, acknowledging their kinship and his failure to be capable of being who he was meant to be. This illustrates to me that, despite Paul’s “otherness” and his cruelty to members of the Emperor’s entourage, Paul is still a compassionate human being. Feyd-Rautha was the endpoint of the Kwisatz Haderach breeding program as a counterpoint to Paul. It’s no doubt that they’re much more closely related than they assume (first cousins, at least). I think that their main difference is on the ‘nurture’ side of the ‘nature vs. nurture’ debate. While Paul was raised with a loving mother, an honorable father, and brilliant, trustworthy trainers, Feyd-Rautha was raised with his brutal uncle and with murder and debauchery. While Paul is confident but cautious, Feyd-Rautha is brash and a cheater. You can also contrast their treatment of women and their attitudes to those in authority over them–Paul wins out as, from where I’m standing, the “right guy for the job” and certainly the most capable ruler.

According to Bene Gesserit plan, Paul should never have been born. Feyd-Rautha should have been the Kwisatz Haderach. It was only through Jessica’s love for Leto that he came into being. This book seems to make the case for looking toward the unexpected, the uncontrollable, the “chaotic” over the planned and the foreseen. It’s an interesting way to look at things.