Study Guide

The Phantom Tollbooth Chapter 14

By Norton Juster

Chapter 14

The Dodecahedron Leads the Way

  • The three travelers – Milo, Tock, and the Humbug – pass a road sign to Digitopolis. They're headed in the right direction!
  • The sign starts with the distance in miles and then goes down in increments all the way to half inches.
  • There are all kinds of ways to measure the distance to Digitopolis, and the travelers can't agree on which measurement they should use.
  • Someone shows up to help them: the Dodecahedron.
  • He's called the Dodecahedron because he is one. He has "twelve faces" (14.14). (A dodecahedron is a three dimensional thing with twelve flat sides).
  • The Dodecahedron explains some of Digitopolis' philosophies to the travelers, particularly Milo. Then he says he'll hop in their car with them and guide them, but only after forcing them to do a little math. (They're trying to figure out how long it will take for them to get from where they are to Digitopolis itself.)
  • Their new guide also tells them where numbers come from. They're like jewels buried deep in the earth, and they have to be brought out through a mining process.
  • To prove it, the Dodecahedron takes Milo, Tock, and the Humbug into a mine.
  • Here, they soon meet the Mathemagician, who helps further explain the numbers-focused philosophy of the realm. Here, numbers are more important than words. (In case you hadn't noticed.)
  • The miners think numbers are the most special things of all. Even though their mine produces what we humans would think of as very valuable objects, like precious stones, the people of Digitopolis don't see the value in them. They only see the value of the numbers.
  • In fact, the Mathemagician dismisses a huge pile of precious stones like they're trash. Instead, he turns his attention to something far more important: lunch.