Study Guide

Dune Book II, Chapter 37

By Frank Herbert

Book II, Chapter 37

  • 5,000 Fremen gather in the well-named Gathering Wall to watch whatever it is Jessica is about to do. No pressure, Jessica, just 5,000 strangers watching your every move.
  • Paul arrives surrounded by Jamis's sons, Kaleff and Orlop. They are taking the duty of guarding their new father very, very seriously. It's kind of cute actually.
  • Paul sees Chani and notices she wears a green kerchief. The green symbolizes mourning.
  • A litter is carried onto the stage, and an old woman emerges from it. She is Reverend Mother Ramallo of the Fremen.
  • Stilgar addresses the audience. They must leave this sietch soon, and the Reverend Mother is too old to make another journey. Luckily for the tribe—if not for the Reverend Mother—the Lady Jessica has agreed to become the new Reverend Mother and will undergo the rite.
  • Oh, and Chani will be consecrated in Sayyadina too, should Jessica fail. Always good to have a backup plan.
  • The Reverend Mother begins chanting the ceremony while the crowd responds. All the while, Paul wonders what will happen to his mother should she fail.
  • A guy called the watermaster brings water with "seed" to the stage and presents it to Chani (37.66).
  • Chani offers the water to Jessica, and Jessica is torn between her motherly duty to Paul and her duty to her unborn child.
  • Too late now. The crowd goes all sorority on Jessica and makes her drink.
  • Jessica recognizes that the water has been infused with concentrated spice. It's super potent drug.
  • Okay, things are going to get really, really trippy from here on in. Just bear with us.
  • Jessica enters a cerebral place suspended in time called the Other Memory. It's a place even the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers refuse to enter, a place only a Kwisatz Haderach may go.
  • Reverend Mother Ramallo also drinks the drug. Her and Jessica's minds connect to each other in this place outside of time.
  • There's a problem, though. Jessica's pregnant, and the Reverend Mother warns her that this ritual will change them both.
  • The Reverend Mother orders Jessica to reach out with her mind and absorb her daughter's fears and soothe her worries.
  • Jessica chants the Bene Gesserit mantra on fear for her daughter.
  • Then the Reverend Mother gives Jessica the collective memories of all the Fremen Reverend Mothers before her. Imagine that scene from The Matrix when Neo downloads kung fu into his mind. It's like that—only it's other people's memories.
  • Reverend Mother Ramallo then gives Jessica her own memories and dies. With that, Jessica becomes the new Reverend Mother.
  • Jessica realizes she brought her daughter into awareness without any psychological defense mechanisms to protect her. Only time will tell how badly such an act will mess with the kid's head.
  • Jessica opens her eyes and orders the Water of Life to be mingled with other waters and given to the people. This way they'll share in the blessing. In other words, the drug's effect will be lessened, but all the Fremen will become aware of each other for a while. It's telepathy lite.
  • Jessica reverts back into the memories of the Fremen Reverend Mothers and comes to an astonishing realization. The Water of Life was created by the vapors of a dying sandworm. Um… gross.
  • Paul checks on his mother. She assures him she's all right and tells him to drink the water with the rest of the Fremen.
  • Stilgar tells Jessica that there is no longer any doubt. She is the genuine article.
  • Paul drinks the water and goes off with Chani.
  • Paul has another vision. This time he sees himself balanced on a tightwire. On one side, he sees his enemies. On the other side, he sees the Fremen and the jihad.
  • Paul cries, and Chani asks if he's offering his moisture to the dead again. He tells her it's given to those who have yet to die.
  • The two proclaim their love for each other.