‘Dune’: Here’s What ‘May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter’ Means

Dune Heres What ‘May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter Means
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Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ is one of the greatest sci-fi masterpieces ever written, partly due to the highly philosophical themes merging with prophecies and destinies. The book inspired plenty of other works of fiction and plenty of schools of thought. This wouldn’t have happened if Herbert had not included some of the greatest quotes in fiction in his works. We’ve already covered the “Litany of Fear” in one of our past articles, and now it’s time to explain one of the lines marked ‘Dune: Part Two’ – “May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter.” Let’s see what it means.

  • Article Breakdown:
  • May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter means that you wish someone death or great misfortune before or during the battle.
  • The saying is traditionally used when a character is about to engage someone in a fight, so it would be nice if destiny would intervene and cause your enemy’s weaponry to literally dissolve rendering him unable to fight.
  • The quote was spoken two times already in the movie series, first by Jamis while he fighting Paul and the second time in part two, by Paul, who is about to engage Feyd-Rautha in a duel to death.

The quote was spoken both in the books and in both movies

This quote isn’t exactly new in the context of the movies or the books as it is spoken often and mostly before battles. The quote also marked the first time Paul had taken a life although it wasn’t spoken by him but rather his enemy. In the first ‘Dune’ movie Jamis is insulted by Paul and challenges him to a duel to death, just as Paul is about to assimilate into the Fremen culture.

Despite being a superior warrior Jamis is quickly disarmed by Paul something at which he takes great offense and challenges Paul to a duel to death, before they are about to engage in a fight, Jamis tells Paul “May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter.”

It’s obviously a Fremen saying since they use a lot of battle terms in everyday life, they are also quite melodramatic when they need to be as they put great emphasis on honor, destiny, and the warrior’s way of life. In any case, Jamis’ saying did not come to pass since Paul ultimately defeated him and embraced the warrior’s way of life and the bloodshed that comes with it.

Soon after that event, Paul was accepted into the tribe and it was confirmed that he was Kwisatz Haderach, a messiah to the Fremen. But it wasn’t the last time that Paul would have to fight and kill to “earn his place.”

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Fremen vs. Sardaukar: Who Is the Superior Force in ‘Dune’ Universe

Near the end of the ‘Dune: Part Two,’ Paul has already decided which path will turn out to be most profitable for humanity as a whole and he needs to take over the throne from Shaddam Corrino IV. Paul kills Vladimir Harkonnen first, but before he can legitimately challenge Shaddam’s rule he needs to defeat his champion Feyd-Rautha, nephew to Vladimir Harkonnen. Before the two are about to engage in a fight, Paul says to him “May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter.” Paul ultimately defeated Feyd, after being severely injured himself. Still, victory is victory, but what did Paul mean when he said that to him?

“May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter” typically calls for the ruin and death of your opponent

Some of the fans speculated that the quote is a way to honor your opponent, and I have to admit that this seems highly unlikely. First, both times that the quote was used the opponents didn’t really have a reason to respect each other. Jamis considered Paul to be arrogant and haughty, he challenged him to preserve his own face in front of his people, there’s no way in hell that he respected Paul. Second, there’s no way in hell that Paul respected Feyd-Rautha since it was a well-known fact that he was a psychopath, something that Paul would know more than your average person due to his prescience. There was absolutely no reason for Paul to respect Feyd-Rautha, the two noble families were practically at war for 10 thousand years up to that point.

“May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter” means that you wish ruin and death upon your opponent, you wish for his knife to literally shatter during the battle which would mean certain death for him. You are literally willing the destiny to enable his defeat. It’s also likely meant to unnerve your opponent during the fight, since he might be inclined to check for his weapon dissolving, no matter how silly it seems. There’s nothing honorable in wishing that your enemy be disarmed either before or during the battle.

The quote also means that Paul has fully accepted his new Fremen identity since he was starting to respect the warrior’s way of life and was starting to think like them.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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