Officer Shrift is the only police officer (and the entire police force) in Dictionopolis. And in addition to being the police force, he’s also the judge and the jailer in town. He’s about two feet tall and four feet wide, and as he walks through Dictionopolis he continuously mutters that the people around him are guilty. Officer Shrift imprisons Milo and Tock for destroying the Word Market, and in addition to giving them a “short sentence” (“I am,” the shortest sentence he knows), he also imprisons them in the dungeons for six million years. But Faintly Macabre, the witch, assures Milo that while Officer Shrift loves locking people up, he doesn’t care at all about keeping them in prison—there’s a door out of the cell. Officer Shrift rides a dachshund in the final fight against the demons of Ignorance.
Officer Shrift Character Timeline in The Phantom Tollbooth
The timeline below shows where the character Officer Shrift appears in The Phantom Tollbooth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5. Short Shrift
...are put back up. As the merchants set to sorting out all the spilled words, Officer Shrift , Dictionopolis’s one-man police force, appears. He’s only two feet tall, but twice as wide.... (full context)
Chapter 6. Faintly Macabre’s Story
...She tells Milo to get on with it anyway and explains that he can’t take Officer Shrift seriously. The man just likes putting people in prison, not keeping them imprisoned, so there’s... (full context)
Chapter 7. The Royal Banquet
...the market place. The Humbug and the Spelling Bee are arguing in a corner, while Officer Shrift mutters “Guilty” as he wanders around. When he notices Milo, he brightly asks if it’s... (full context)