Study Guide

The Phantom Tollbooth Chapter 6

By Norton Juster

Chapter 6

Faintly Macabre's Story

  • This chapter begins with Faintly explaining what happened to Rhyme and Reason.
  • She starts out by giving the backstory, which involves a prince setting out on an exploration. He arrives in a complete wasteland and eventually conquers all the bad things living there. When he's done, he creates a city, called Wisdom.
  • At first, Wisdom is just a tiny part of the remaining wasteland. The prince, now a king, uses Wisdom as a base and gradually wins more and more territory.
  • The king's life flashes by, before he knows it, he has two sons.
  • The sons continue their dad's mission of gaining territory. They each found their own cities, Dictionopolis (we know that one) and Digitopolis. As you might have guessed, the first is for words and the second for numbers.
  • The two brothers each think that their city is the best and they quickly become rivals.
  • While this is going on, the king discovers two abandoned baby girls. He adopts them into the royal family and names them Rhyme and Reason. Cute.
  • After the king passes away, his sons, Azaz (Dictionopolis) and the Mathemagician (Digitopolis) share the kingship of Wisdom and are supposed to take care of baby sisters Rhyme and Reason.
  • For a while, it's all good, and Rhyme and Reason become famous for being fair and honest.
  • But the brothers can only get along for so long, and eventually they have the fight to end all fights. They want Rhyme and Reason to choose between "words and numbers" (6.20).
  • Rhyme and Reason end up finding a happy medium: they say that the two are equally important, but in different ways. Sounds fair to us.
  • But this pleases no one and the two sons send the two sisters away, to the Castle in the Air.
  • And that's where Faintly's story ends. The two sisters are still gone, and so all the realms suffer.
  • Milo still wants to save the day, but there's the little problem of his jail time.
  • But Faintly tells him that he and Tock can go any time. Officer Shrift won't be back to check on them, and he didn't lock the door. Oh, okay.
  • So Milo and Tock leave. That was easy.
  • As they're leaving, they run right into the cabinet members, who say they're late for the banquet.
  • The cabinet members take Milo and Tock for a ride in their "wagon" (6.54). This little contraption moves when people are silent because it "goes without saying" (6.56). Man, these puns are just too good to be true.