Study Guide

The Phantom Tollbooth Chapter 13

By Norton Juster

Chapter 13

Unfortunate Conclusions

  • Milo doesn't have much time: as soon as he talks, he'll lose his stolen word.
  • So he races back to the others. He writes down what he's done, and the people of the Silent Valley get ready to use his word as their weapon. They set up a big cannon, and Milo says his word into it.
  • Then, the Silent people fire their cannon at the Soundkeeper's fortress.
  • The "but" looks small, but as soon as it hits the fortress it does the trick. The fortress sort of explodes, and all the forbidden sounds come out at once.
  • For a while, as you might think, it's a complete cacophony (a mess of unmatching sounds). But the cacophony fades away remarkably quickly, and the citizens reabsorb their old sounds with what seems like no problem.
  • Then they all go about their own business. Man, everything happens really quickly in this book, huh?
  • Milo, Tock, the Humbug, and the Soundkeeper are left behind. The Soundkeeper is super sad, and the other three can't console her.
  • What cheers her up is the appearance of the DYNNE, who has gathered up some of the leftover noises. He doesn't think they're useful, because they aren't unpleasant, but the Soundkeeper is so happy to have them back.
  • She tries to give the DYNNE a present of nice sounds as a token of her thanks, but this freaks him out and he leaves (he only likes bad sounds, remember?).
  • It turns out the Soundkeeper also wishes Rhyme and Reason would come back. Everyone's on board, huh? She wants to help Milo in the quest, too, and so she gives him a little box of different sounds.
  • Then, she tells them which way to go to get to Digitopolis.
  • But the characters aren't so lucky as to get to their destination right away. While they're going along in their car, each of them makes a claim that isn't based in fact. As soon as they do, they vanish and reappear on an island in the middle of the Sea of Knowledge. This should be interesting.
  • On the island, they meet a man who says he doesn't know his own identity. The three want him to tell them where they all are, but he wants them to tell him who he is. He just keeps saying the things he "can be," so the other three decide is name is "Canby." Easy as pie.
  • In turn, Canby says that this island is called Conclusions and they have all "jumped" (13.54) there. (Take a second to bask in the glory of this play on words.)
  • Canby says that people get to the island all too easily: it's leaving the island that's hard. And, in fact, the island is terribly crowded.
  • To leave, Canby says, they have to swim back to land.
  • Milo and Tock force the Humbug to gear up for it, and the three of them sludge through the sea back to land. They've all learned a lesson from it (no more jumping to conclusions!). They get in the car and are off on their way again.