The Phantom Tollbooth | Study Guide

Norton Juster

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The Phantom Tollbooth | Chapter 19 : The Return of Rhyme and Reason | Summary



Tock and the others land on the ground with a jolt. As they gallop down the mountainside, demons and gorgons follow them. They are met by the armies of Wisdom, swords and shields shining in the sunlight. They hear the sound of thousands of trumpets, and lines of horsemen advance. King Azaz and the Mathemagician lead the charge. Dr. Dischord hurls explosives, Chroma the Great leads his orchestra, and everyone who met Milo during his adventure is present. They all thank Milo, Tock, and Humbug and cheer them on. A royal holiday is declared in their honor, and parades and a three-day carnival are to be held.

King Azaz and the Mathemagician confess that the quest had been deemed impossible, but Milo succeeded. "So many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible," the rulers tell Milo.

At the carnival, there are rides, fireworks, noise, music, and laughter. Alec Bings set up a telescope in order to see the moon. A royal banquet is held in the evening, followed by songs, poems, and speeches. Afterwards, it is time for Milo to go home. He thanks everyone for the things they taught him, and the king thanks him for what he taught them. They bring out his car, "polished like new." Everyone waves, and Milo heads home.


Milo has learned yet another important lesson. The rescue of the princesses seemed impossible, but Milo is able to accomplish it. He realizes that it's impossible to know how things are going to turn out ahead of time and that making the effort to succeed is what matters.

The other valuable lesson here is that people learn from each other. Milo thanks everyone for the things they taught him, and the king thanks him for what he learned from Milo.

This chapter contains one of the most striking of Jules Feiffer's illustrations: a double-page spread featuring various demons from the Mountains of Ignorance. It's a compelling, detailed, dark image, though many of the individual figures it portrays are comical because of their exaggerated features and silly expressions. The illustration captures the mood of the novel's climactic moment as Milo and his companions descend from the mountains.

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