The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster
The Phantom Tollbooth Exploration Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"From there it's a simple matter of entering the Mountains of Ignorance, full of perilous pitfalls and ominous overtones – a land to which many venture but few return, and whose evil demons slither slowly from peak to peak in search of prey. Then an effortless climb up a two-thousand-step circular stairway without railings in a high wind at night (for in those mountains it is always night) to the Castle in the Air." (8.48)
Check out the Humbug's descriptive language here. Even though the journey is "full of perilous pitfalls and ominous overtones" and the destination is full of "evil demons" that "slither" about, he describes undertaking it as "a simple matter" that involves "an effortless climb." The harder and more difficult the elements of such a quest are, the more strongly the Humbug describes them as really being no problem. Why do you think that is?
"Ah, the open road!" exclaimed the Humbug, breathing deeply, for he now seemed happily resigned to the trip. "The spirit of adventure, the lure of the unknown, the thrill of a gallant quest. How very grand indeed." Then, pleased with himself, he folded his arms, sat back, and left it at that. (9.2)
The Humbug can talk himself into just about anything, can't he? A moment earlier, going on this adventure was the last thing he wanted to do. If the king hadn't made him, he wouldn't have gone. But now that he's on "the trip," the narrator says, he's "happily resigned" to it. It seems like the Humbug has to make the trip sound as exciting and "grand" as possible to make himself feel better about going.
"To be sure," said Canby; "you're on the Island of Conclusions. Make yourself at home. You're apt to be here for some time."
"But how did we get here?" asked Milo, who was still a bit puzzled by being there at all.
"You jumped, of course," explained Canby. "That's the way most everyone gets here. It's really quite simple: every time you decide something without having a good reason, you jump to Conclusions whether you like it or not. It's such an easy trip to make that I've been here hundreds of times." (13.52-54)
If the things and people of the Lands Beyond are more than what they seem at first, so are the methods of travel used in the Lands. From the wagon that "goes without saying" to the Mathemagician's erasing, to the quick and easy jump to Conclusions, each area comes with its own benefits and problems – and its own landscapes to explore.