I really appreaciated the whole rejection of the "hero" ideal of Dune Messiah, and the effort FH put into making the culture and society of the empire even deeper than in the first book.

For this reason, this detail immediately bugged me and I can't think of a good explanation for it.

The whole fremen society is build on water preservation, with striking details like ''giving moisture to the dead'' which really drive in the concept.

So, why is it that fremen who become blind should walk off in the desert to die? I understand the pragmatic idea that they cannot afford to take care of them, but is it not true that

''A man's flesh is his own; the water belongs to the tribe''.

This seems like a huge waste of water! Why not letting them ''fall on their knife'' honorably, then take their water?

I get it it's necessary for the plot, but I was wondering if anyone thought of any way to justify it water-wise.

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    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senicide - Humans have done this for a very long time
    – Valorum
    Jun 13, 2023 at 15:46
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    Obviously. What I am asking is, why waste their water which is immensely valuable and literally "belongs to the tribe"?
    – Pronte
    Jun 13, 2023 at 15:53
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    It is puzzling but note that real-life cultures having this custom do not, for example, eat the flesh of the old person or even take their clothing (which we take for granted today but 200 or less years ago, a shirt and pants could be ones prized and only possessions). The dead have been buried with their own possessions, sometimes manifestly valuable, for thousands of years. The Freemen allow sometimes some individuals to keep their water.
    – releseabe
    Jun 13, 2023 at 16:44
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    Perhaps the sense of taintedness that causes them to walk off into the desert also causes the Fremen to reject their water. This is only speculation, though.
    – Kyralessa
    Jun 13, 2023 at 17:16
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    The parallel with human cultures that don't touch the valuables of a dead person don't work here: as I've quoted, "normal" firemen have their water taken. Wasting the blind's water cannot be a sign of respect. Superstition on the other hand seems to explain it well enough
    – Pronte
    Jun 14, 2023 at 12:24

1 Answer 1


According to the Dune Encyclopedia, the custom of exposing the blind to the desert was deeply ingrained into their society and was an 'ancient custom'. Blindness was seen as an especially unpleasant condition by the deeply superstitious Fremen, and the water these poor individuals carried appears to have been considered to be tainted.

The blind were more than a burden to a Fremen sietch; they were looked upon as anathema; others within a sietch did not even want the water that could have been recovered from their dead bodies.

Better to give them to Shai-Hulud than to contaminate the sietch's waters.

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    Ah that makes more sense, thanks. Happy that there was some canonical explanation of it.
    – Pronte
    Jun 14, 2023 at 8:00
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    @Pronte - Someone will be along shortly to explain why the Dune Encyclopaedia isn't fully canon :-)
    – Valorum
    Jun 15, 2023 at 16:57

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