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The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster

Philosophical Viewpoints Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thought about going. Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he'd bothered. Nothing really interested him – least of all the things that should have. (1.2)

Milo's got some major apathy going on here. He's the epitome of the "grass is always greener" guy, mixed with the "glass is always half-empty guy." In other words, he's an envier mixed with a pessimist. Is that any way for a young boy to live his life?

Quote #2

"BALDERDASH!" shouted a booming voice. And from around the wagon stepped a large beetlelike insect dressed in a lavish coat, striped pants, checked vest, spats, and a derby hat. "Let me repeat – BALDERDASH!" he shouted again, swinging his cane and clicking his heels in mid-air. (4.39)

This moment actually tells us a lot about the Humbug as a character. If his philosophy could be summed up in one word, "BALDERDASH" would be it. "BALDERDASH" is a nonsense word, and it usually means that our Humbug thinks that whatever the other person is saying is totally useless. The joke on the Humbug is, of course, that he doesn't have anything to back up his view of things. He's all ready to offer up Milo on a quest to save the princesses, but would never dream of taking on something like that himself. Shmoop thinks that's balderdash.

Quote #3

"Words are more important than wisdom," said one privately.

"Numbers are more important than wisdom," thought the other to himself. (6.9-10)

Hmm. That definitely doesn't sound right. No wonder these people are in such trouble. See, what both of them don't realize is that you shouldn't separate "wisdom" from either words or numbers. Doing so makes these two a little less wise.

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