64

In the concluding few sentences of Foundation and Empire, the Mule says that:

I call myself the Mule - but not because of my strength, obviously -

They do not finish the sentence. Earlier in the book some Foundation denizens theorised that it was because of his hard-working attitude to galactic conquest (which seems odd in itself), but this effectively disproves that. If it was not because of his strength, why did he name himself thus? I presume that it's implied but I have failed to make any inferences.

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    Hee haw! Hee haw! – pleurocoelus Jul 12 '17 at 13:49
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    I don't think that "namesake" is the right word here. Obviously the Mule's namesake is just a mule. What you are looking for is why he chose that to be his name. Maybe it should read, "How did the Mule choose his name?" – BlackThorn Jul 12 '17 at 15:53
  • @TBear you're probably right, I did consider for a few seconds what word would be best to use because I wasn't sure. – C. R. Yasuo Jul 12 '17 at 19:36
  • I've removed the author tag (again), because we don't use them for questions about specific works as per this meta. – Gallifreyan Jul 13 '17 at 13:24
  • You know, a galaxy with a mind-controlling dictator is like the mule with a spinning wheel. – Coxy Jul 14 '17 at 0:10
122

The Mule's name is self-chosen and refers to his sterility

"Secondly, we did not know of your physical shortcomings, particularly the one that seemed so important to you, that you adopted the name of the Mule. We didn't foresee that you were not merely a mutant, but a sterile mutant and the added psychic distortion due to your inferiority complex passed us by. We allowed only for a megalomania – not for an intensely psychopathic paranoia as well.

Second Foundation

and

“Exactly, First Speaker. I wish I had thought of that expression. What was the Mule? A mutant. But where did he come from? How did he come to be? No one really knows. Might there not be more?”
“Apparently not. The one thing that is best known about the Mule is that he was sterile. Hence his name. Or do you think that is a myth?”

Foundation's Edge

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    It's been a while since I've read those books, but I recall having a sense that the "Mule" was very stubborn. Your quotes, though, appear to be conclusive. – Shokhet Jul 11 '17 at 17:24
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    @Shokhet That's just a great cover for his actual reason. People will imagine he calls himself the Mule because he's strong, stubborn, etc. It's just the usual megalomaniac puzzle for people to entirely misinterpret :) Also note that in later books, we learn a lot more about the origins of The Mule - he wasn't really a mutant. – Luaan Jul 13 '17 at 7:34
  • @Luaan: I thought he was a mutant (hence why he was infertile), it's just that his powers don't come entirely from being a mutant. – sumelic Jul 13 '17 at 18:28
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    @sumelic - Presumably he's just upset about the X-Men rejecting his application – Valorum Jul 13 '17 at 18:31
40

Because he's sterile, like most mules.

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    Damn, you type fast! :) – Jeff Zeitlin Jul 11 '17 at 17:01
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    Include a lot of wavering on whether I should try and find textual evidence ... but it seems so obvious I don't think more evidence is needed. – iayork Jul 11 '17 at 17:01
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    @iayork evidence is always good. I've been surprised many times about things I thought were obvious. – Arthur Dent Jul 11 '17 at 18:10
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    @valorum got it before I could get home and check – iayork Jul 11 '17 at 18:15
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    @Calllack so did I – iayork Jul 11 '17 at 19:00

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