Early in the novel Dune, Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam administers a test to Paul Atreides to determine, as she puts it, whether he is or not "human". It seems that this testing is normally something internal to the B.G. and not usually administered to men, so in Paul's case it was unusual but not necessarily unique.

The procedure itself is straightforward:

“The test is simple. Remove your hand from the box and you die.”

Prior to being tested, Paul was given to understand that calling for help was not an option:

“Servants will not pass your mother who stands guard outside that door. Depend on it.”

Presumably she would turn them away with some excuse, and they would not challenge her authority. This would have made her complicit in whatever occurred.

If Paul had failed the test, the B.G. would have killed the sole heir of a noble house, putting succession at risk and potentially resulting in its extinction. Generally, swift and violent retribution could be expected under those circumstances, leaving aside the personal character of Duke Leto Atreides, who was a family man and also a believer in precepts such as "we make our own justice", both of which would have been known to the B.G through Jessica.

The Bene Gesserit are resourceful, and it could be expected that Mohiam and Jessica would have been prepared to make a quick exit from planet Caladan should the contingency arise. However, House Atreides is also resourceful and patient, as shown by their ongoing vendetta with House Harkonnen. It seems likely that assasination attempts against the parties responsible would be within their capability, and these could continue across multiple generations. Additionally, in a social context where assasination was taken very seriously, they could easily use their influence among the other noble houses to make life difficult for the B.G. simply by making the facts of their case known: the Duke married a member of the B.G. who then committed treason, facilitating the poisoning of her own son and heir apparent to House Atreides.

Is there anything published by Frank Herbert, or in the expanded novels, which discusses the potential fallout if Paul had failed to pass the test and what steps the B.G. might take in such a situation?

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    Its been many years since I read it, but I think she really expected him to fail. and while she told him he would die, I don't think she would have actually killed him. But I have no other info on this and this is just my opinion. But as I said it has been 30+ years since I read the book. And may be basing my opinion more on my memories of the the Dune 1984 movie.
    – NJohnny
    Commented Jun 20 at 4:15
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    @NJohnny Mohiam did say to Paul afterwards "No female ever withstood such pain, I must have wanted you to fail" or close to that.
    – Batperson
    Commented Jun 20 at 4:47
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    I think the most likely outcome is that they would simply have said that it was "a training accident. So sorry". Don't forget that Paul was nearly stabbed to death by his Swordmaster only a few hours earlier. Training to be Duke is a violent business with lots of hazards.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 20 at 6:31
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    Bene Gesserits are the ones who scheme and plan. Jessica acted out of love in making a boy for her duke "the Atreides flaw". Seems unlikely she had a contingency plan. Commented Jun 20 at 13:55
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    @Valorum Paul's swordmaster told him he would have given him a scar if he'd "fought one whit below his abilities" but there wasn't any danger Halleck would have actually killed him. If there was, he wouldn't have been entrusted with the job. Nobody would have bought it if Mohiam claimed Paul's death was a "training accident".
    – Batperson
    Commented Jun 21 at 0:37

7 Answers 7


A some of the other answers indicate, it is impossible to know for sure what plans either Jessica or Mohiam had in place against the eventuality that Paul failed the test of the gom jabbar.

However, from the first and subsequent books, it seems clear to me that, had Paul failed the test, Mohiam would have killed him, instantly. As a possible kwisatz haderach, Paul potentially had so much power that he represented an existential threat to humanity, and the Bene Gesserit's sole and primary ("sacred"!) purpose is to advance humanity and protect its survival, at any cost.

That Mohiam and Jessica would have likely been killed in reprisal would not have entered into the sisterhood's calculation in any serious way. Perhaps a plausible cover story would have been prepared--assassination, by poison or otherwise, was evidently common among the Great Houses--but even if House Atreides refused to accept that story, then losing one Reverend Mother and one acolyte would be considered a small price to pay to avoid releasing such a dangerous monster upon all of humankind. The Bene Gesserit tend to think almost exclusively in the collective; individual sisters are known to wish themselves dead if their continued existence threatens their collective goals.

And there are many factors that might mitigate the response to Paul's assassination. Mohiam was the Emperor's truthsayer, so perhaps that would have protected from immediate execution. Jessica had already shown a willingness to disobey the sisterhood's stated plans because of the love she felt for her husband, and so the sisterhood could plausibly disavow her as a renegade, and would be unlikely to prioritize her survival in any contingency plan. And of course House Atreides was completely destabilized by the move to Arrakis, and would have had particular difficulty opening up a new front to revenge themselves against the Bene Gesserit at that time.

From the sisterhood's point of view, though, the main primary reason to even bother with a cover story would be to avoid reputational damage. If sisters start assassinating members of Great Houses, they might quickly lose influence and access that they need to effect change. But even so, there would likely be enough doubt around the event for them to plausibly deny that such a thing was likely to happen again. And the other Great Houses, who never really trusted the Bene Gesserit anyway, would probably calculate that their continued association with them was, on the whole, a net positive.

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    This seems entirely speculative. OP wants to know what they were planning, not what they might have done.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 20 at 16:12
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    @Valorum As others have noted, what they were planning was not explicitly recorded. However, any plans they might have made would be in accordance with their established values and modus operandi. Commented Jun 20 at 17:25
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    Sure, but there are a million things they could have done. Off the top of my head I can think of at least 20; fighting their way out, voicing their way out, simply telling people that Paul is still alive, making the Duke kill himself, pretending that Paul died in an unfortunate accident, pretending that Paul attacked them, etc etc
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 20 at 18:08
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    How the existence of the Count Fenring fits into that answer? From the little there is, he seems to be a very dangerous man, yet not only he's alive, but he's allowed to use some of his powers stemming from failure to become K.H.
    – AcePL
    Commented Jun 21 at 6:45
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    @AcePL, I suppose the answer is that Count Fenring remains alive because he is, according to the Bene Gesserit, a very dangerous human. Commented Jun 21 at 15:20

I'm somewhat in agree with @steenbergh as it's assertion is true: Jessica was ordered to give birth a female and she went rogue accepting to have a male descendent.

So, surely decades of plans within plans were blown out for this Jessica's decision, and, although it's feasible to think that some type of contingency plan would be prepared on the case Paul would have died, it wasn't within the original Bene Geserit plans for house Atreides.

Sadly, we cannot know which involved that plan, or even if it exist, as the books doesn't refer that. We can speculate and think about alternatives, and surely there are several interesting ones, but we don't know for sure.

So I fear this question doesn't have an answer because the author of the novel doesn't left one for us. You know... he already knew that Paul will survive the test, so there wasn't any reason to write down the contingency plan that surely had existed.

  • 1
    This seems entirely speculative
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 20 at 14:59
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    @Valorum it's fully in line with what little information the book actually provides.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 20 at 15:23
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    @Valorum It's hard to not be speculative about the Duniverse. It's not as if were entirely consistent or explanatory, with Herbert throwing barely digested stuff at it. One can hardly do proper research or hit the library, after all. And the prequels are just ... err ... fantasy work. Commented Jun 20 at 18:49
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    How on earth can "We don't know because it is literally never written in the series" be speculative?
    – Nij
    Commented Jun 21 at 5:45
  • @Nij It's the opposite. All answers are necessarily speculative in absolute terms, but the Q is a valid one and valid speculations backed by source material should be permitted to be offered vs any general forum rules against speculation.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 23 at 13:04

The book doesn't actually say what the plan was for when Paul failed and died. Then again, Paul wasn't supposed to be, he wasn't part of the BG plan in the first place, so for the BG (and thus the RM) his death wouldn't be a setback. If anything it'd offer them an opportunity to try and create another heir, the desired female this time.

Of course later in the book it is heavily suggested that the BG and the RM were fully aware of the imperial plan to rid the universe of the Atreides line completely, killing all of them. What's not clear is whether that was always the plan or whether it was the backup in case the Atreides family didn't produce a female heir.

Remember the Lady Jessica was under strict orders to produce a female heir, who'd then be married off to the Harkonen male heir to merge those 2 lines in the BGs long term plan. With no female Atreides heir, that plan was out the window so removing the Atreides line some other, more violent, way would be a backup someone as ruthless as the RM would certainly have considered, and with her connections to the Emperor would quite likely have been able to whisper into his ear.

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    This seems entirely speculative.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 20 at 15:36
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    @Valorumit isn't, it's based on the actual text of the book. Which is the only canon we have. Just because something doesn't match your ideas doesn't mean it's "just speculation".
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 21 at 4:22
  • There is tons of extra 'canon' including interviews with the author, notes and writings, alternate versions of the dune story, additional books written by his son, etc etc.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 21 at 4:25
  • The BM doesn't want the Atreides line removed. It is utterly crucial to their plans - they've been selectively breeding them for millennia. As they've missed their planned KH this generation, it's even more important that the line survives to try again.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jun 23 at 10:40
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    I'd go with @Valorum - Speculative. I will also add that you have it backwards: That Paul was born was all the imbalance needed for Emperor to turn against Atreides. Paul became an existential threat to Corinno House. Also, Emperor would not need to eradicate Atreides completely - just them going renegade would be enough.
    – AcePL
    Commented Jun 24 at 7:51

They would have covered it up by blaming it on assassins. Most likely Harkonnen or Fremen assassins.

There is no real source for any possible answer to this question, since it just isn't considered in the book. But based on what we know of the political climate in Dune this seems to be the most likely answer.

  • 3
    This seems entirely speculative
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 20 at 14:59
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    Fremen? I think you have your timeline mistaken. The events in the question are before they were shipped off to Dune.
    – fdomn-m
    Commented Jun 20 at 15:40
  • Not when the Atreides knew that the RM was there in the castle.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 20 at 17:29
  • 1
    @Valorum It has to be. There is no definitive answer in the books so we can only speculate based on the evidence we do have. Commented Jun 24 at 7:40
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    @Valorum Ok, but that's not really relevant unless the answer exists outside of the novels in canon material. Commented Jun 24 at 11:09

In my first tentative answer I went too far too quickly: the first step is to challenge the OP's interpretation of the text.

If Paul had failed the test, the B.G. would have killed the sole heir of a noble house.

This is at least, as @Valorum puts it, highly speculative and, in my view, a complete invention; the BG cannot be that dumb anyway.

Read the whole chapter again: nowhere is it implied, and even less written, the criterion for declaring a successful or failed test is the subject coming out alive or dead. What is implied is merely, he dies if he removes his hand before receiving permission to do so: une tout autre paire de manches if you will pardon my French or, you might say, a completely different pair of cuffs.

Prior to being tested, Paul was given to understand that calling for help was not an option:

“Servants will not pass your mother who stands guard outside that door. Depend on it.”

Again, that it took place prior to the test is completely invented: the text is explicit it was in the course of it, implying Paul had opportunities to fail even before the RM said that line. Same with was not an option, if by this the OP means "would cost him his life": again, the text is quite specific about what would. Before the above quote is this, with emphasis in bold by me:

A dry finger touched his neck and he stilled the involuntary urge to leap away.
‘Good,’ she said. ‘You pass the first test. Now, here’s the way of the rest of it: If you withdraw your hand from the box you die. This is the only rule. Keep your hand in the box and live. Withdraw it and die.’

Paul took a deep breath to still his trembling. ‘If I call out there’ll be servants on you in seconds and you’ll die.’

This makes it quite clear what the first test was: to determine whether, without help from the RM, Paul can override the first instinctive, "animal" response to fear: to jerk away. Mere seconds before, he could not: did she kill him in disgust at this show of animality? No, she took active steps to protect him:

He saw a glint of metal there and started to turn toward it. ‘Stop!’ she snapped.
Using the Voice again!

What makes this first test "good" is Paul regaining control all by himself. Nowhere are we given to understand the RM must kill Paul if he failed this first test, i. e. needed more of her help to still the urge to jerk away; why must she in the next test, then?
Of course, she may refuse her help meaning instant death, same as if, say, she breaks the one rule and stings in spite of his keeping his hand in the box: everyone meets with opportunities to act dumb in their lives, even the most "human" of us by BG standards. Our time-honored way to deal with those who jump on such opportunities is penal law.

The RM also makes it clear "the rest of it", i. e. the second test, is proceeding even while she speaks: initially, Paul considers the second instinctive response to fear, to attack the RM. Now, read her answer anew: nothing implies she will sting him if he calls for help, she merely corrects him that no one will enter and she will not die. Note also, Paul expressly consents to the procedure:

He felt calmness return, said: ‘Get on with it, old woman.’
‘Old woman!’ she snapped. ‘You’ve courage, and that can’t be denied. Well, we shall see, sirra.’
She bent close, lowered her voice almost to a whisper. ‘You will feel pain in this hand within the box. Pain. But! Withdraw the hand and I’ll touch your neck with my gom jabbar - ’

With this information and her continuing explanations, Paul could now, at any time, e. g. withdraw his consent, call for help, beg the RM for mercy, signal he's losing control etc. In the book, he chose not to do any of these; yet we witness Paul and the RM exchanging words, even after she enjoined silence. This would not break the rule, hence need not be met with a sting; yet again, the RM might act dumb.

Anyway, the RM was also assessing him all along and, possibly, making other lightning-quick decisions than to prick her gom-jabbar:

But here was a mission that required personal attention from a Bene Gesserit-with-the-Sight. Even the Padishah Emperor’s Truthsayer couldn’t evade that responsibility when the duty call came.
Damn that Jessica! the Reverend Mother thought.

Why a BG-with-the-Sight, i. e. one good enough at the minutiae of observation to work as a professional Truthsayer? Given the unknowns of the test, in particular the adequacy of Paul's training, such an RM may decide, on impulse, that he is overreaching his limits, no longer perceives the movements of his own arm, or whatever, and end the test prematurely as failed.

What is a failed test?
The text is quite explicit: Paul succeeded by convincing the RM he was human enough to be introduced to the BG's grand schemes. Conversely, failure is the inability to override the "animal" responses to fear, which can express itself in several alternative ways:

  • he may fail the first test by the RM having to continue actively protecting him,
  • he may withdraw his consent to the second test,
  • he may call for outside help,
  • he may tell the RM he overreached his psychological resources,
  • he may betray enough lack of self-control for the RM to reach the same conclusion in his stead and end the test.

I claim any of the above entails a failed test: Paul was not human enough to endure whichever level of pain the current circumstances exacted. None of them breaks the one rule for "the rest of it".

Back to the title question
What is Jessica's and the BG's plan if Paul fails the test? Hopefully, the answer is now obvious. She sighs in relief that he lives, grins in bitter disappointment that he could not jump on the BG bandwagon and goes back to work, properly now: she brings forth the wanted daughter who will marry a Harkonnen and better luck next time. What else.

It would be plain stupid to kill Paul: just dispense with the RM's briefing, strike him off the BG's to-be-salvaged list and poof! Down he drops in the garbage chute of History, same as his father; the Harkonnens will see to it, no questions asked, no embarrassment to the BG and a clean slate for his posthumous nephew.

The right question
Instead, the question the OP wanted to ask might be: what is the plan if a VIP like Paul botches the test and dies? What makes an answer right is a matter of opinion; my own answer is, there need not be any plan. Paul botching the test witnesses, ipso facto, the whole BG completely botched their eugenistic approach to the KH problem in the first place.

If, with their 10,000+yrs of developing other memories, prana-bindu yoga, minutiae of observation, Voice control and what not, Paul loses control AND is too macho to show it AND the BG are not deft enough to stop him in time, what was the point of this Kwisatz Haderach rigmarole? Obviously, the BG's assessment, that their breeding program is nearing its ultimate refinement and will produce the ideal political leader within 2 generations, is not worth a rabbit's fart.
Consider what Paul dying during the test entails: the Emperor's Truthsayer, one of the most perceptive BG cadres out of 10,000yrs of genetic enhancement and testing, did not even realize a colt, from their own human stud farm, was about to die from misjudging how much pain he could really withstand! All that they drew to superhuman heights, with this selective breeding scheme of theirs, was their incompetence; the best gift they can offer to human kind is to let the resulting scandal remove them from the gene pool in its wake.

No backup plan, seriously?
Quite seriously: no more backup plan than the BG held ready, in case a surviving, rogue Atreides KH should pop up after the Harkonnen raid on Arrakis. Even shrugging off this example, it would not be a unique case in the Dune universe. There was but one flaw in the Bene Suk approach to patient safety, which required to manifest itself:

  • a BG wife
  • to whom a BS doctor would bond with utmost love;
  • a mentat with enough cunning to circumvent said BG
  • and with enough refined sadism to make said doctor break his conditioning instead of dying at the sight of her torments, as the BS had theorized;
  • 10,000+yrs of Tleilaxu experiments in human perversity, to come up with a mentat conditioned to devise and carry out this program.

One snag rooted in an incredibly far-fetched scenario and poof! Instant and total discredit for the Bene Suk. Note, the stake was this high, and the risk this infinitesimal, each time they tested a new student all these Kyrs.

Clearly, the Bene Suk needed no backup plan; even more clearly, they had none. Same high stake, same infinitesimal risk with the testing of Paul; hence, I say, no need of a backup plan either.

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    @downvoters All the feedback I get from your downvote is, >= 1 of my readers considers my post not useful to them. From that alone, I cannot possibly guess what I can do to improve it: specially in view of the fact that I, for one, am quite conscious of how useful (clear, in-topic, etc.) it is to me. Please provide useful comments such as, to which specific use you failed to put my post to. Commented Jun 21 at 20:40
  • 1
    Fair enough question. I think I can speak for them: in our view, it's plain wrong.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 23 at 13:10
  • Assuming you don't want to just correct it to the opposite of your own previous reading, one point of positive feedback would be that the RM isn't actually testing Paul to see if he's human. She's testing whether he can overcome humans' own base animal nature... although presumably not to kill the trapper and remove the threat to his kind.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 23 at 13:13
  • 1
    Then again, it's always possible you realized that the RM "cannot be that dumb" and the Bonny Jesuits committing mass suicide was never in the cards regardless. Alternatively, you could've read the other higher rated answers. If so, cool. Do correct the post to something less wrong. Then, the downvoters might notice and correct their own votes accordingly.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 23 at 13:15
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    You're welcome! Like the votes already show you, I meant that your post would be recognized as more useful by other users if it agreed with the correct interpretation of the OP, like the upvoted answers. No, none of us—probably including you once you think about it more—think disbanding the BJ was the BJ's contingency plan.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 23 at 14:08

House Atreides and House Harkonnen were part of the Bene Gesserit breeding program. Lady Jessica (a Harkonnen) was supposed to bear only daughters with Leto Atreides. One of them was supposed to marry/breed with Feyd Ratha Harkonnen (her 1st cousin) to reduce some of the bloodshed when the Atreides were defeated by the Emperor and Harkonnens and to produce the baby Kwisatz Haderach. They did not need Paul at all so ideally they would have just killed him immediately and told Lady Jessica to bear a daughter. Lady Jessica would probably not have gone along with that so then they would have had a few options:

I vaguely remember in some later books they say that BG never relied on any one baby in their breading program, so maybe they would have just killed Paul and kicked Lady Jessica out of BG and grabbed some other bloodline and breaded their KW.

If they really needed those bloodlines, however, then they may have breaded someone with Paul then killed him or told Lady Jessica to bear a daughter first then killed Paul after taking Lady Jessica's baby away from her.

  • 1
    OP is asking what their game plan was immediately after Paul's (potential) death, not the long-term implications. For example, what would they tell Leto?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 24 at 21:22
  • This doesn't seem to be an answer to the question that was actually asked...
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jun 25 at 12:52

I do not believe there was any meaningful plan in place for the failed test contingency. Mainly because only two people on the whole planet knew what the test involved, so at best one can call it "do it, worry about whatever happens next, later". Both of these persons were Bene Gesserit, they both were aware of the stakes, so one can safely assume that, any consequences were of no significance, on the scale of things happening.

Besides, how would look a plan to commit murder of the heir of the Great House, but especially the escape after part, and particularly for mother of said heir?

I think, therefore, that the death of Paul was highly unlikely, and for a number of reasons:

  1. I don't think RM Mohiam, despite her bias, expected the test to be failed. Same goes for Jessica, if with far more emphasis. First of all, the whole program looks very shaky if they can't foresee the expected result. But even then, there's the Atreides House itself. An old Great House, which BG is well acquainted with, which has a very specific way of rearing their children: in essence, "nurture trumps nature". Unless the test is specific to Kwisatz Haderah, it can't be this hard if Feyd-Rautha passed it (I assume, since he was "enrolled" into the whole BG program), which seems unlikely considering his... behaviour.
  2. Paul was an only Heir to a Great House. Not even BG can run around killing some children of all the nobles in the known universe, and especially the ones who are blood relatives to the Emperor.
  3. There is no real need to kill - in just needs to be a clearly stated part of the test, which it was. It's possible that BG would not want to have failed/rogue KH running around, but Paul is nothing more than a hopeful, yet to be confirmed.
  4. Mohiam clearly admitted to being biased, and if she recognized it in herself, BG would also be aware of that possiblity. So, killing test subjects when the test itself is flawed would be antithetical to what BG believes in. Allowances have to be made for that, and had the poison be real, then consequences are also real. It has less to do with politics or beliefs, than simply with human nature, which BG knows all too well.
  5. The nature of the test - beside the threat to be real to be integral part of it - doesn't really require for the subjects to be killed on failure. BG has ways to eliminate them from the program without that permanent solution. Even the description does not imply death:

We Bene Gesserit sift people to find the humans.

  1. BG needs the Atreides bloodline, and Paul is the only heir. It's possible Jessica would bear another child, but this would be too much of a risk to trust a BG who already disobeyed her orders twice (at the very least).
  2. Bonus reason: I am not claiming I'm like Duke Leto, but I believe that had Paul was killed in administering the test, he would refuse Emperor, abandon Arrakis fiefdom and would declare war on Bene Gesserit. Not everyone knew about her coming specifically to administer test, but her visit was known to a lot of people and spies reported to Leto that she saw Paul. If he ended up dead after that audience... I see it as a no stretch of imagination of Duke Leto exacting his revenge on the Sisterhood. Because Atreides are the epitome of the "nurture trumps nature" approach, I don't see Leto accepting "but your only child and heir was not human being" defense... I know I wouldn't.

But there are also arguments against my proposition:

A. Jessica knows this test is a lethal one. It's possible she knows from her own experience and she may have seen her "sisters" from the program die to it, so she sees it as a real danger to Paul:

My son lives, she thought. My son lives and is... human. I knew he was ... but ... he lives. Now, I can go on living.

B. Everyone working on that genetic program in - and/or on behalf of - BG takes it very seriously - i.e. Count and Lady Fenring do a lot of stuff that's questionable in so many ways. Certainly Jessica is willing to risk her son's life for it and it's not difficult to believe that Jessica would aid and abet Mohiam in case of failure. Hints in above quote imply she would do it at the cost of her life, too (or rather, with deliberate sacrifice of it).

C. BG is aware that Jessica bearing a male child to Duke Leto has already brought serious political consequences, among others one being the imminent fall of the House Atreides. Mohiam says as much:

“You think I could be this Kwisatz Haderach’, he said. “You talk about me, but you haven't said one thing about what we can do to help my father. I’ve heard you talking to my mother. You talk as though my father were dead. Well, he isn’t!”

“If there were a thing to be done for him, we’d have done it”, the old woman growled. “We may be able to salvage you. Doubtful, but possible. But for your father, nothing. When you've learned to accept that as a fact, you've learned a real Bene Gesserit lesson”.

So in case of Paul's failure becoming terminal, there is really no great harm in the long term. In other words: they're gone from power anyway, so who cares?

D. Bene Gesserit was prepared to lose the direct access to Atreides bloodline, because they already had it in the program. The loss would set it back considerably, but not fatally derail it (though I am not sure if my recollection is accurate and it is from Dune and not from later books).

In summary I would expect for Paul to not die, mainly because no one involved thought it to be a serious possibility. But if Paul failed, then... maybe render him unconscious with that needle; maybe, in addition, sterilize, but not kill. Too many unknown variables to deal with, no one would dare to lit that powder keg's fuse.

  • 1
    The appendix in Dune states that the Gom-jabbar is a "specific poison needle [...] used by Bene Gesserit Proctors in their death-alternative test of human awareness.". Your quote of Jessica (who is very afraid of the test) shows she really considered Paul's death a possibility. Mohiam even hints she tested extra hard, so she had a bias. I think the death of Paul was likely in their minds, though of course Jessica wished for her son to live, and Paul was an unforeseen singularity so that the Reverend Mother didn't really know whether he'd live ("perhaps you're the Kwisatz Haderach").
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jun 24 at 17:43
  • @AndresF. - Yes, it's all true and I am considering it in my answer by quoting Jessica - to establish that she KNOWS the death risk is real. But also I am enumerating reasons why it could be a ruse for the purpose of the test only, because there are other considerations, possibly overriding the finality of the test. And I believe these considerations apply in this specific situation. Also, being a father, in place of Duke Leto, in that situation, I would screw Arrakis and declare war on BG. Really think this is not in the calculations everywhere?
    – AcePL
    Commented Jun 25 at 14:25

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