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The Phantom Tollbooth

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title ·  The Phantom Tollbooth

author ·  Norton Juster

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  Young adult, Fiction, Fantasy

language ·  English

time and place written ·  1961; Hampshire, England.

date of first publication ·  1961

publisher ·  Epstein & Carroll Associates

narrator ·  Anonymous

point of view ·  The point of view is from a third person omniscient narrator who skips from character to character, revealing a number of characters' thoughts and actions.

tone ·  The tone in the book is playful and fantastic. Though there are moments of serious danger, such as Milo's encounters with the demons of ignorance, the book reads mostly like a whimsical fairy tale.

tense ·  Past tense

setting (time) ·  Unclear, but relatively modern

setting (place) ·  The Lands Beyond, a strange fantasyland.

protagonist ·  Milo

major conflict ·  To release the princesses Rhyme and Reason from imprisonment in the Castle in the Air.

rising action ·  After Faintly Macabre tells him the story of the princesses' disappearance, King Azaz charges him with the mission of finding and releasing them.

climax ·  After much travel and difficulty, Milo find the princesses and manages to get them out of the Castle in the Air. Once on the ground, the group is surrounded by hordes of demons.

falling action ·  The armies of Wisdom, led by Azaz and his brother the Mathemagician route the demons and welcome Rhyme and Reason back to the land.

themes ·  The value of education; appreciating the things of everyday life; learning to use common sense; escaping boredom

motifs ·  Puns; gift giving.

symbols ·  Rhyme and Reason, Milo's gifts, Tock

foreshadowing ·  When he gives Milo his mission, Azaz tells him that there is a serious problem with the quest. However, he will only tell Milo about it once he has completed his journey. The secret, it turns out, is that Milo's mission is impossible.