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The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster

Freedom and Confinement Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

"Has Azaz agreed to it?" the Mathemagician inquired.

"Yes, sir," the dog assured him.

"THEN I DON'T," he thundered again, "for since they've been banished, we've never agreed on anything – and we never will." (16.44-9)

The two brothers have trapped themselves in a pointless, endless argument. They're minds are totally closed to other viewpoints and ideas. Luckily Rhyme and Reason can return to open their minds, with the help of clever Milo and his buddies.

Quote #8

After what seemed like days, he [the Humbug] had dug a hole scarcely large enough for his thumb. Tock shuffled steadily back and forth with the dropper in his teeth, but the full well was still almost as full as when he began, and Milo's new pile of sand was hardly a pile at all.

"How very strange," said Milo, without stopping for a moment. "I've been working steadily all this time, and I don't feel the slightest bit tired or hungry. I could go right on the same way forever."

"Perhaps you will," the man agreed. (17.1-3)

Milo, Tock, and the Humbug all agreed to these tasks of their own free will. No one's standing over them with weapons or anything to make sure they keep at it. So what's keeping them there, then? Perhaps it's their own closed minds. They're not thinking clearly, or critically, so they just keep going with the (awful) flow.

Quote #9

"Well, I hope you didn't expect to get anywhere by listening to me," said the voice gleefully.

"We'll never get out of here," the Humbug moaned, looking at the steep, smooth sides of the pit.

"That is quite an accurate evaluation of the situation," said the voice coldly. (17.35-37)

In this moment, it seems like all the three travelers' attempts to rescue the princesses will have been in vain because they are stuck in this terrible "pit." How can they possibly escape? Well, for starters, they could figure out who's trapped them down there. As it most situations in this book, the trick to getting out of a jam is nothing more than clever thinking.

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