Study Guide

The Phantom Tollbooth Chapter 3

By Norton Juster

Chapter 3

Welcome to Dictionopolis

  • Milo and Tock drive along together. Milo wants to know why Tock is named Tock when the sound he makes is "tick." Hmm, good question.
  • Tock is overwhelmed by emotion and relays his life story. He had a brother who was named Tick and only made the sound "tock." Ironically, the reverse happened to him.
  • He also explains the concept of time as he understands it. Turns out his family business is protecting time.
  • Milo and Tock keep talking about time until they get to Dictionopolis, which is a beautiful city. Actually, it's the type of place you'd read about in a fairy tale.
  • When Milo and Tock roll up, a man is standing outside Dictionopolis, guarding it.
  • He welcomes them, saying that it's the market day. He wants to know their reason for approaching.
  • Hmm. Milo doesn't have one.
  • So, after some digging around (literally, digging into the ground) the guard finds a reason (it's an object that says "WHY NOT?") and gives it to Milo. This is like his free pass into the city. How cool is this place?
  • Once Milo and Tock get in, five gentlemen greet them. The men take turns saying the same thing in five different ways. Huh?
  • They also welcome Milo and Tock to Dictionopolis, and introduce themselves as the king's cabinet. All together, the five guys talk like a cross between a dictionary and a thesaurus. They define and act out their words constantly. Sounds complicated.
  • The cabinet members tell Milo about the importance of individual words: they say that words grow in Dictionopolis' forest, and they explain how words are used in the country.
  • These strange dudes also invite Milo and Tock to the Royal Banquet.
  • Then Milo and Tock go off to explore.