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The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster

Time Quotes Page 3

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

"Then why bother?" asked Tock, whose alarm suddenly began to ring. (17.13)

This moment reminds us of Tock's watchdog side. He's protecting time, sure, but he's also protecting his friends. His alarm could be used to remind people to get up (etc.), but here it functions like a proper "alarm" (like a fire alarm), warning the others of danger. Tock's a pretty handy guy to have around.

Quote #8

"Think of all the trouble it saves," the man explained, and his face looked as if he'd be grinning an evil grin – if he could grin at all. "If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you'll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You just won't have the time. For there's always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing, and if it weren't for that dreadful magic staff, you'd never know how much time you were wasting." (17.20)

The demon's mantra goes against everything Tock stands for. The demon's purpose is "wasting" time, but that's precisely what Tock's supposed to guard against. So it makes sense that this guy ends up being really dangerous. Tock's main job in life is figuring out when people are wasting time and keeping them from doing so. But he's fooled by the demon and doesn't realize that the tasks the demon provides are precisely designed to waste time.

Quote #9

"Well, time flies, doesn't it?" asked Milo.

"On many occasions," barked Tock, jumping eagerly to his feet. "I'll take everyone down." (18.72-73)

Here's another instance where wordplay saves lives. We don't usually mean the expression "time flies" literally. It's an expression people use to emphasize that things are happening more quickly than they expected. But Tock represents time, and he lives in a place where figures of speech continually come true. So, as Time's representative, Tock can actually fly. Awesome.

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