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The Phantom Tollbooth | Study Guide

Norton Juster

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The Phantom Tollbooth | Chapter 20 : Good-by and Hello | Summary



Milo drives through the countryside, wondering how long he has been gone. In the distance he sees the tollbooth, which he approaches and drives through. It is now six o'clock, and he is back in the middle of his room. He is amazed to see that it is still the same day and that he was gone only one hour.

The next day at school, he thinks of all kinds of ideas and plans for "the tollbooth and what lay beyond." He is impatient to get home and take another trip, but when he walks in his room, the tollbooth is gone. In its place is an envelope that says, "For Milo, who now knows the way." The note inside says that his trip was completed and there are other children waiting to use the tollbooth. The note adds that there are more places for Milo to visit and things to see, but "if you really want to, you'll find a way to reach them all by yourself."

Milo thinks about all of the characters he met on his trip, including Tock and the Humbug. He notices that "the sky was a lovely shade of blue" and that a cloud was shaped like a ship. He thinks about "walks to take, hills to climb," and voices and conversations to listen to. He thinks about books and inventions, puzzles and music, and other worlds. And mostly, he thinks about all of the things he could "do right here."


In one day, Milo has turned his young life around. He has discovered that learning can be fun and that learning new things can happen in unexpected ways. He has learned to look at his surroundings and appreciate what he sees around him. Milo has also learned about the power of imagination and creativity. He can be creative and have fun with his own ideas; he doesn't need to depend on a Phantom Tollbooth.

In the final illustration, we can see how Milo has changed. In the first chapter, Milo is walking home with his eyes cast on the ground, indifferent to the things that surround him. In the illustration on the last page, Milo is alert, his head is up, and his eyes are taking in everything that is around him. He sees his room in a whole new way. Interestingly, the earlier illustration is very dark with lots of heavy lines. In the final illustration, the lines are lighter and the illustration itself is brighter overall.

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