The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster
The Phantom Tollbooth Philosophical Viewpoints Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"I didn't know that I was going to have to eat my words," objected Milo.
"Of course, of course, everyone here does," the king grunted. "You should have made a tastier speech." (7.52-53)
In Dictionopolis, people are very careful about what they say at banquets because they have to "eat [their] words." Can you imagine if this were true in everyday life? What a way to live. It seems like one of the philosophies of Dictionopolis is to be very careful about what you say. But this doesn't quite jive with their imprisonment of the Which, who's all about being careful what you say.
"It is a little [inconvenient]," replied Alec, "but it is quite important to know what lies behind things, and the family helps me take care of the rest. My father sees to things, my mother looks after things, my brother sees beyond things, my uncle sees the other side of every question, and my little sister Alice sees under things." (9.33)
If someone asked you to explain how you look at the world, what would you say? Would you be able to identify your bias or point of view? Alec's saying here that everyone he knows has a specific way of looking at the world. In this case, he means it literally. But what Alec's saying can also be a metaphor for the fact that we all have our own way of looking at the world.
"I'm sorry you can't stay longer," said Alec sadly. "There's so much more to see in the Forest of Sight. But I suppose there's a lot to see everywhere, if only you keep your eyes open." (11.23)
Keep your eyes open? Or maybe keep your mind open? Alec shows Milo all the different ways you can look at the world, and here he encourages him to take it all in, without prejudice. Sounds like good advice. Does Milo follow it?