Study Guide

The Phantom Tollbooth Chapter 8

By Norton Juster

Chapter 8

The Humbug Volunteers

  • Everybody's stuffed.
  • This is especially true for the Humbug, who thinks he's made himself ill.
  • The king is about to tell them all something, but the majority of the people at the feast all run away. What is with these people?
  • The only ones left are the king, Milo, Tock, and the Humbug. The king is kind of bummed about this.
  • Apparently, the other people have all gone straight to their next meal.
  • It turns out that Dictionopolis has too many words and not enough sense. The king and the Humbug brainstorm, but none of the ideas sound good.
  • Milo brings up the whole Rhyme and Reason thing. Azaz says he'd like it if they'd come back, but that it'll never happen.
  • But wait: the Humbug jumps in and says he knows how it could happen. The princesses could come back if their saviors (Milo and Tock, obvi) could go to Digitopolis and get the Mathemagician's permission, and then go through a dangerous journey to rescue the princesses from the Castle in the Air.
  • Each part of the trip has its own specific danger. Milo thinks it's totally unsafe, while the king kind of seems to like it (well, duh, he doesn't have to go).
  • Before they know what's happened, Milo and Tock have been given the task of going on the trip and bringing back Rhyme and Reason.
  • The king warns them that they'll encounter at least one terrible obstacle, but he won't say what it is. Why not? We have no idea.
  • He gives an order and a bunch of servants come in. They tidy up after the banquet so well that the whole palace disappears. Just like that.
  • Azaz presents Milo and Tock with a box full of words. It's both a weapon and a protective device for them to use on their trip.
  • Then, the king says the Humbug will go with them to help. The Humbug is even more upset about having to go than Milo and Tock. Serves you right for volunteering them, Hummy!
  • They all bid each other good-bye, and then Milo, Tock, and the Humbug set off on their quest.