Chapter 02

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Chapter 02

Postby Freakzilla » 12 Feb 2008 17:28

To attempt an understanding of Muad'Dib without understanding his mortal
enemies, the Harkonnens, is to attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood.
It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be.

-from "Manual of Muad'Dib" by the Princess Irulan

We are introduced to Baron Vladimir Harkonnen the patriarch of House Harkonnen, Piter DeVris his twisted mentat and Feyd-Rautha his sixteen-year-old nefew and heir to the Baron. They are in an office or library around a desk, looking at a globe of Arrakis, which the Baron refers to as the "biggest man-trap in history." He points out Arrakis's unique features, a planet-wide desert with no open water, only tiny ice caps.

We learn of the vendetta between House Harkonnen and House Atreides through Duke Leto's rejection of the Baron's peace gesture. The Baron's mentat, Piter, is outgrowing his usefulness, and the Baron takes note of his blue-in-blue eyes with no whites, a sign of Piter's enourmous spice addiction. Piter brags that the Baron is jealous because he didn't come up with this plan to eliminate Duke Leto. The Baron threatens to have Piter killed but Piter claims he won't do that while he is still useful and being a mentat he knows when that will be. Piter knows the Baron learned to waste not on Dune. Feyd grows impatient listening to the Baron and Piter's bickering. The Baron points out to Feyd that he causes pain out of necessity by Piter takes delight in it. The Baron explains that Dr. Yueh is a traitor in the Atreides household and that Duke Leto must know that it is he who has defeated him and that the other Great Houses must know, too. This will cause them to hesitate giving the Baron more time to maneuver. We learn and that the Lady Jessica has been promised to Piter as a spoil. The Baron explains to Feyd the limitations of mentats, Piter is more efficient than the ancient thinking machines but he is emotional and passionate, he can still make errors, like predicting that Lady Jessica would bear a daughter. The Baron askes Piter to function as a mentat for Feyd's benifit. Piter tells their plans to sow suspicion of the Lady Jessica in the Duke's mentat, Hawat and of the Emperor's involvement by providing military aid disguised as Harkonnens. Taking Arrakis will give the Baron and irrevocable CHOAM directorship to mine the spice. This means unimaginable wealth. The Baron comes out from behind the desk and his gross and immense fat is revealed, along with the fact that he needs the help of suspensors to hold up his weight. The Baron sends for food.

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Postby halcyo » 20 Feb 2008 12:45

I would like to add that this is one of my favorite chapters to refer to when I try to convince people that the Baron is not so EVIL (especially not as much so as they seem so convinced to display him being in the film adaptions).

Pg. 11 from the PDF version:

"Sometimes I wonder about Piter," the Baron said. "I cause pain out of necessity, but he... I swear he takes a positive delight in it. For myself, I can feel pity toward the poor Duke Leto. Dr. Yueh will move against him soon, and that'll be the end of all the Atreides. But surely Leto will know whose hand directed the pliant doctor... and knowing that will be a terrible thing."
"Then why haven't you directed the doctor to slip a kindjal between his ribs quietly and efficiently?" Piter asked. "You talk of pity, but --"
"The Duke must know when I encompass his doom," the Baron said. "And the other Great Houses must learn of it. The knowledge will give them pause. I'll gain a bit more room to maneuver. The necessity is obvious, but I don't have to like it."


That last line!?
Discuss!

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Postby JabbaMustDie » 06 Jun 2008 07:57

But he IS evil, especially from the point of view of the Atreides. The capitalized word makes it so! Plus, I could repeat it and make it even more of a truth! :) j-k

I only read the lines as meaning he wishes he could avoid causing such pain to royalty, as we later learn that he doesn't wish for Leto to be seen by others in such a state as when he is drugged. Sets bad precedent or some such. Nevermind he is a distant cousin, it's all about royalty being seen in a bad light, not wanting to give any ideas to others in his household I think. (Like that one line in "Unforgiven", where English Bob says someone trying to assassinate the Queen would tremble at such a thing and be unable to do it. Sort of the same principle, but remove that initial hesitation, show that such a thing can be done, then killing royalty isn't seen with as much difficulty. I would refer to the assassination attempt by Feyd later on as case in point).

Baron says that he must have the Atreides line ended. His thinking is twisted, when he says that the other Houses must know it was his doing, thus he must have Leto: they would know anyways, considering the long-time feud between their Houses. Baron says himself, they will know. Instead, he wants to gloat over Leto, even brings him to the dinner table for display later on. He wants to rub his face in it, so to speak. How cruel is that, a drugged captive sitting at the table while they have dinner? And you know it was a fine setting, crystalwear, servants on-hand, multiple courses being served, and a drugged captive sitting across from you. Sounds wicked to me....

A knife in the back of Leto would have been a kindness, but that's not something the Baron is known for, kindness. The things we learn, his treatment of the Fremen, his torture of Duncan's family, the enslavement of Gurney, these things of which we don't know the particulars, all show the Baron to be a wicked, evil man. The way all these different people react to anything Harkonnen, shows the great hatred he has brought about. It seems that he had a talent for it, or a natural disposition.

That there was a sad tone in his voice to me shows how overwhelmed by his own wickedness he is. That he may feel a bit of sadness but still follows through with his plan, shows that his thinking/mentality is flawed. To feel one way, but think and act another regardless of one's own feelings, to me shows dishonesty with one's self, even internal conflict perhaps. Maybe it's just that his gut feelings are too far buried under the fat!

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Postby orald » 06 Jun 2008 08:47

No, clearly he just doesn't give a shit about Leto, Jessica, Paul and their followers. Why should he, anyway? They're his enemies.

Only Jesus and liberals care about their enemies, and the former is already dead thanks to it.

Waiting for the later...
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Postby Simon » 25 Aug 2008 14:59

I loved this chapter. More great introductions all around, especially for Piter and the Baron. The tone and set up are excellent, Frank sets a great scene, the mysterious Baron lurking in the darkness, using Feyd as the way to get across more expository info in a very organic way, not to mention the creepy unspecified tensions between the three during the whole chapter. Obviously these guys are technically "on the same team" but each one is clearly looking to put the others down in the long haul.

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Postby Schu » 28 Jan 2009 07:02

Here we hear about the Emperors need to use smuggling operations as a cover for espionage, because of the guild's monopoly on space travel.

We see one of the only depictions of CHOAM's workings (other than "they will rally around profit): apparently noble houses (as opposed to houses major or great houses perhaps? Houses that have imperial lineage? but maybe not) can dip into the coffers of CHOAM when allowed by a directorship in CHOAM.

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Postby Freakzilla » 28 Jan 2009 08:24

Schu wrote:We see one of the only depictions of CHOAM's workings (other than "they will rally around profit): apparently noble houses (as opposed to houses major or great houses perhaps? Houses that have imperial lineage? but maybe not) can dip into the coffers of CHOAM when allowed by a directorship in CHOAM.


No, House Harkonnen is not royal family and they have a CHOAM contract to mine the spice.
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Postby Schu » 28 Jan 2009 16:51

And yet they are offered the chance to have a directorship by destroying the atreides, elevating them to a noble house in effect, showing that the imperium is pragmatic about these things.

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Re: Chapter 02

Postby DuneFishUK » 15 Aug 2009 09:39

Why does Frank mention Yueh in this chapter?

I think any other author would have kept quiet about the traitor's identity until the actual betrayal - get some suspense and guessing going on. The reader trying to work out who'll do it.

Was Frank was deliberately trying to separate Dune from the detective story format of most other SF?

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Re: Chapter 02

Postby TheDukester » 15 Aug 2009 11:10

That's a fair point, and one that occurred to me, as well, during my current re-read.

I'm now sort of half-convinced that he might have felt that the first six chapters of Dune — which are just jam-packed with characters, ideas, and back-story — were challenging enough without adding in a whodunit. There is a lot going on in the opening stages of Dune, as I'm reminded every time I go back for another look. I can see FH thinking, "Okay, one thing I'd like to be crystal clear about is the traitor ... hell with it, I'll just announce it."

The first six chapters of Dune are my favorite series of chapters ever; I hope to talk about them at more length soon.
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Re: Chapter 02

Postby HoryThory » 15 Aug 2009 13:07

For Herbert Sr. I think portraying humans doing human things was extremely important. That Yueh had done this naughty thing was irrelevant. WHY he'd done it -- and its end result -- was far more important. And, as Herbert showed us, the end result was incredibly important and intertwined with the entire novel.
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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Schu » 16 Aug 2009 03:09

I think Frank enjoyed showing Yueh's emotions reacting to people that he was going to betray. If he were to hide Yueh's later betrayal, there was very little of his character that he could explore. How much worse would the scene between him and Jessica have been had Frank not been able to discuss the betrayal?

I certainly know I enjoyed it.

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Re: Chapter 02

Postby SandRider » 16 Aug 2009 03:26

^^ correct answer.
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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Serkanner » 16 Aug 2009 07:58

Frank "shows" and doesn't just "tell" Yueh's betrayal and emphasizes with it the human emotional part of the betrayal. That is, in my opinion, why even just one chapter of Frank's work outclasses all of the McDune books combined.

I remember that when I read it for the first time I could hardly wait to read whether the betrayal would succeed or not. Knowing the plan of the betrayal drew me completely into the story and I found myself being part of it instead of just a "viewer" from the outside. I could "feel" the pain of Yueh and later Leto when he realized he had only one option open. Fantastic writing!
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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Nekhrun » 20 Aug 2009 12:31

I think it makes the story all the more tragic when you know how it will play itself out. As a reader you don't want it to happen because you begin to identify with or care about the characters. All we can do is sit by and watch it all unfold. I think it makes for a more intense reading experience.
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Re: Chapter 02

Postby DuneFishUK » 23 Aug 2009 08:46

Nekhrun wrote:I think it makes the story all the more tragic when you know how it will play itself out. As a reader you don't want it to happen because you begin to identify with or care about the characters. All we can do is sit by and watch it all unfold. I think it makes for a more intense reading experience.

Agreed - not being constrained by a whodunnit really allows FH the chance to show these characters for who they actually are. What he gains from that is pretty incredible (like Schu says - Jessica vs. Yueh) compared to a cheap reveal that would only really work once.

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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Freakzilla » 25 Jan 2011 13:13

Updated Summary.
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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Enno » 12 Feb 2011 14:29

Does anyone else here think that Piter knows more about BG breeding than hes letting on? I dont for a minuite believe the excuses he reveals for incorrectly predicting that Jessica would bear a female. Not that it amounts to much I guess im just having a real problem with why the BG exist at all.

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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Freakzilla » 12 Dec 2011 13:06

clean
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Re: Chapter 02

Postby ahnnah » 18 Dec 2011 11:03

Enno wrote:Does anyone else here think that Piter knows more about BG breeding than hes letting on? I dont for a minuite believe the excuses he reveals for incorrectly predicting that Jessica would bear a female. Not that it amounts to much I guess im just having a real problem with why the BG exist at all.



I think the reason Piter incorrectly predicts the sex of the Duke's child is that he is distracted by his addictions and his sadistic obsessions which there aren't a whole lot of details about but I assume are happening behind the scenes. Dude's a twisted Mentat for cryin' out loud, that's pretty effed up. He probably believes that Jessica will bear a female heir because that's what the BG do in general. He assumes that is what will happen because that is what happens and maybe doesn't really give it much thought because there's no logical reason for Jessica to go against the grain in his mind. The BG's are supposed to have supreme control over their emotions; it's her decision to embrace her love for the Duke that causes her to rebel and she is the only one who knows the depths of her heart. Unless he was prescient somehow, there would be no way for him to know that she would disobey the Order.

And coming from a yogi's standpoint, the BG are my favorite :D Politics aside (yes I know, but still) them bitches kick ass!

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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Freakzilla » 18 Dec 2011 22:29

I'm a BG fan, too.

But you're right, Jessica screwed everything up.
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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Sandman » 22 Mar 2016 19:56

I like how Frank gave us all of the facts and then went to tell the story. I agree about what others have said, mentioning that it increases the tension in the scenes knowing what must be going through Yueh's head. Also, when I was reading it I felt like I was reading something that had happened a long time ago. Because of the fact that Herbert opens each chapter with a quote from something within the universe, way after the events have transpired, it makes sense that he would tell you exactly what's going to happen (Again, imagining this is ancient history we would 'know' what happened) so he could show you the more human and personal side to this would be villain and bring the 'past' to life!

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Re: Chapter 02

Postby distrans » 09 Mar 2018 01:18

how is it the Harkonnen control arrakis for what 80 years and don't have a CHOAM directorship but will get one once they take it from the Atreides a week after getting thrown out?

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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Serkanner » 09 Mar 2018 02:05

distrans wrote:how is it the Harkonnen control arrakis for what 80 years and don't have a CHOAM directorship but will get one once they take it from the Atreides a week after getting thrown out?


Where is it mentioned the Harkonnen didn't have a CHOAM directorship to mine the Spice during their first stint on Arrakis? The right to mine the Spice was handed over from The Harkonnen to the Atreides. Which makes sense.
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Re: Chapter 02

Postby Freakzilla » 09 Mar 2018 08:40

The Harkonnens had a CHOAM contract to mine the spice but not a directorship, they held Arrakis as a quasi-fief.

Thufir Hawat, his father's Master of Assassins, had explained it: their
mortal enemies, the Harkonnens, had been on Arrakis eighty years, holding the
planet in quasi-fief under a CHOAM Company contract to mine the geriatric spice,
melange. Now the Harkonnens were leaving to be replaced by the House of Atreides
in fief-complete -- an apparent victory for the Duke Leto. Yet, Hawat had said,
this appearance contained the deadliest peril, for the Duke Leto was popular
among the Great Houses of the Landsraad.

...

"You have no idea how much wealth is involved, Feyd," the Baron said. "Not
in your wildest imaginings. To begin, we'll have an irrevocable directorship in
the CHOAM Company."
Feyd-Rautha nodded. Wealth was the thing. CHOAM was the key to wealth, each
noble House dipping from the company's coffers whatever it could under the power
of the directorships. Those CHOAM directorships -- they were the real evidence
of political power in the Imperium, passing with the shifts of voting strength
within the Landsraad as it balanced itself against the Emperor and his
supporters.

...

The Duke noted his son's distress, said: "As always, Hawat sees the main
chance. But there's much more. I see also the Combine Honnete Ober Advancer
Mercantiles -- the CHOAM Company. By giving me Arrakis, His Majesty is forced to
give us a CHOAM directorship . . . a subtle gain."

~Dune

Apparently, if you defeat a Great House, you get their fiefs.
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