Binti

by

Nnedi Okorafor

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The Meduse are a race of beings in the galaxy of the novella. They look like large, translucent jellyfish and are universally feared due to their instant and bloody method of killing groups, known as moojh-ha ki-bira. The Meduse have conflicts with the Khoush on Earth, as well as with Oomza University, and they worship water like a god. They’re rational, seemingly to the point of being emotionless, and are very honorable.

Meduse Quotes in Binti

The Binti quotes below are all either spoken by Meduse or refer to Meduse. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Tom Doherty edition of Binti published in 2015.
Binti Quotes

In my culture, it is blasphemy to pray to inanimate objects, but I did it anyway. I prayed to a metal even my father had been unable to identify. I held it to my chest, shut my eyes, and I prayed to it, I am in your protection. Please protect me.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Heru, Okwu, Binti’s Father
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

We’d all been taught this Meduse form of killing in history class. The Khoush built the lessons into history, literature, and culture classes across several regions. Even my people were required to learn about it, despite the fact that it wasn’t our fight. The Khoush expected everyone to remember their greatest enemy and injustice. They even worked Meduse anatomy and rudimentary technology into mathematics and science classes.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker)
Page Number: 25-26
Explanation and Analysis:

“Evil thing,” I heard the one called Okwu say. Of all the voices, that one I could recognize. It was the angriest and scariest. The voice sounded spoken, not transmitted in my mind. I could hear the vibration of the “v” in “evil” and the hard breathy “th” in “thing.” Did they have mouths?

Related Characters: Okwu (speaker), Binti (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

I couldn’t give all my otjize to this Meduse; this was my culture.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Okwu
Related Symbols: Otjize
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

I sat up straight, ignoring the fatigue trying to pull my bones to the bed. “I am Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaipka of Namib.” I considered speaking its single name to reflect its cultural simplicity compared to mine, but my strength and bravado were already waning.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Okwu
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

I frowned at it. Realizing something. It spoke like one of my brothers, Bena. I was born only three years after him yet we’d never been very close. He was angry and always speaking out about the way my people were maltreated by the Khoush majority despite the fact that they needed us and our astrolabes to survive. He was always calling them evil, though he’d never traveled to a Khoush country or known a Khoush. His anger was rightful, but all that he said was from what he didn’t truly know.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Okwu, Bena
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

“In your university, in one of its museums, placed on display like a piece of rare meat is the stinger of our chief,” it said. I wrinkled my face, but said nothing. “Our chief is...” it paused. “We know of the attack and mutilation of our chief, but we do not know how it got there. We do not care. We will land on Oomza Uni and take it back.”

Related Characters: Okwu (speaker), Binti, The Chief
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

Spongy. As if it were full of the firm jelly beads in the milky pudding my mother liked to make. I could sense current all around me. These people had deep active technology built into the walls and many of them had it running within their very bodies. Some of them were walking astrolabes, it was part of their biology.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Okwu, The Chief, Binti’s Mother
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

“Was it the sting?” I asked.

“No,” it said. “That is something else. You understand, because you truly are what you say you are—a harmonizer.”

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Okwu (speaker)
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

Several of the human professors looked at each other and chuckled. One of the large insectile people clicked its mandibles. I frowned, flaring my nostrils. It was the first time I’d received treatment similar to the way my people were treated on Earth by the Khoush. In a way, this set me at ease. People were people, everywhere. These professors were just like anyone else.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Haras, The Chief, Okwu
Related Symbols: Otjize
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

“You’ve never seen the Meduse, either. Only studied them...from afar. I know. I have read about them too.” I stepped forward. “Or maybe some of you or your students have studied the stinger you have in the weapons museum up close.”

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), The Chief, Okwu, Haras
Page Number: 75-76
Explanation and Analysis:

The spiderlike Haras raised two front legs and spoke in the language of the Meduse and said, “On behalf of all the people of Oomza Uni and on behalf of Oomza University, I apologize for the actions of a group of our own in taking the stinger from you, Chief Meduse. The scholars who did this will be found, expelled, and exiled. Museum specimen of such prestige are highly prized at our university, however such things must only be acquired with permission from the people to whom they belong. [...] We will return it to you immediately.”

Related Characters: The Chief, Binti, Okwu
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

I’ll never forget the way the chief’s body went from blue to clear the moment the stinger became a part of it again. Only a blue line remained at the point of demarcation where it had reattached—a scar that would always remind it of what human beings of Oomza Uni had done to it for the sake of research and academics.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), The Chief
Related Symbols: Okuoko, Otjize
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:
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Binti PDF

Meduse Term Timeline in Binti

The timeline below shows where the term Meduse appears in Binti. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Binti
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
...when suddenly, someone screams. Heru’s chest explodes, and Binti is covered in blood. There’s a Meduse behind Heru. Even though it’s blasphemy in Binti’s culture to pray to inanimate objects, Binti... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
The Meduse rustle. They’re tall, with silk-like domes for bodies and tentacles that spill to the floor.... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Instead, they helped her look ahead toward her bright future. She thinks of watching the Meduse punch through Heru’s chest. For no reason she can think of, Binti begins to think... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
...long after Binti was accepted, Dele joked that Binti wouldn’t have to worry about the Meduse as the only Himba on the ship. Binti thinks of how she’s ignored everyone since... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...in the present, Binti opens her eyes and clutches the edan to her chest. The Meduse in front of her is blue, except for one tentacle that’s pink and curled. Binti... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...a tray and her satchel with food and water and then leaves the cafeteria. The Meduse follow her; they have no eyes, but they “see” through smelling with their tentacles. Binti... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...for a map and keeps an eye on her door. Though she read that the Meduse can’t get through walls, she understands that she can’t blindly believe that just because it... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
...Uni will blow up the ship, though she thinks it doesn’t make sense that the Meduse plan to commit suicide. (full context)
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...it’s an abomination to commit suicide or give in, but she also knows that the Meduse are intelligent and will find a way to kill her, no matter what. Instead of... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...snaps out of her trance and nearly screams. She hasn’t heard anyone speak since the Meduse killed everyone, so she makes sure that she’s alone in her room. Binti hears more... (full context)
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
The voices argue. One Meduse, whom the others call Okwu, wants to break down the door and kill Binti. Binti... (full context)
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Binti says she’s not evil and refuses to open the door. As the Meduse mutter outside, Binti sits against the door. Leaves appear above her shoulder and make her... (full context)
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...feel better. Okwu again asks how they can understand each other, points out that the Meduse haven’t spoken to humans in years, and promises not to harm Binti—but Binti refuses to... (full context)
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
One of the Meduse darts forward. Binti sees her entire family at her funeral flash before her eyes, and... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...the edan and tries to figure out how it’s allowing her to speak to the Meduse. It reveals nothing. Binti lies down and lets herself tree. Suddenly, Okwu surprises her and... (full context)
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...blows an irritated breath and leaves. It returns a few minutes later with five other Meduse. Okwu asks again about the edan. Binti shares that a woman once told her it’s... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...Dambu Kaipka of Namib. She thinks about repeating Okwu’s one-word name to drive home the Meduse’s “cultural simplicity,” but her bravery begins to slip away. Okwu approaches and asks Binti what... (full context)
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...have okuoko. Meanwhile, Binti is colored like the fish’s skin, and she has small but Meduse-like okuoko. Binti points out that there are lots of different types of humans, and it... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...is healed and asks if it’ll let her live in thanks. Angrily, Okwu says the Meduse aren’t human—they don’t kill for gain or for sport. They only kill for purpose. Binti... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Binti asks Okwu about the “current-killer” it used in the Meduse-Khoush war and reminds it that suicide means dying on purpose. Okwu says simply that the... (full context)
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Binti bravely walks through the corridor linking the Meduse ship to the Third Fish, trying to ignore that she probably won’t return. Even though... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...once told her it was a “god stone,” but it only worked now, among the Meduse after the Meduse murdered her friends. Binti begs the chief to let her speak for... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...plan to negotiate peacefully with Oomza Uni. Binti insists that many will die—and all the Meduse will die—if the Meduse try to attack. The stinger presses harder against her neck and... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Binti says that the Meduse are right: she can’t represent them while holding the edan. Someone at Oomza Uni would... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
The Meduse don’t return, so Binti prepares for landing. She looks out the window at the planet’s... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Binti follows Okwu and the chief through the ship. She sees all the Meduse in the dining room. Fortunately, there are no visible bodies. The chief threateningly tells Binti... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
...announces that they’ll go to the Presidential Building and asks Binti to translate for the Meduse. When the soldier asks if the Meduse will mind taking a shuttle to move faster,... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Binti continues her story and details how the Meduse killed everyone on the ship. She makes sure to point out the Meduse are at... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Binti is certain that the professors will agree to her proposal. The Meduse chief speaks angrily but eloquently and says that they have the right to take back... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Haras speaks in the Meduse language and apologizes on behalf of Oomza University. They promise to expel and exile the... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Then, Haras invites Okwu to stay as the first Meduse student at Oomza University. Okwu’s attendance will be a show of allegiance between Oomza Uni... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
...that it was just her hair. Binti asks if this is why she understands the Meduse. Okwu says that it was the only way to allow Binti to understand them, while... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...mere minutes. The story goes that a “tribal” human female saved the university from terrorist Meduse by using “mathematical harmony and ancestral magic.” Binti shares that people at Oomza Uni use... (full context)
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Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
At Binti’s dorm, Okwu insists it knows what Binti is thinking. Binti sobs that the Meduse are honorable, but they’re also very traditional. She says that Okwu is her friend and... (full context)