The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by

Norton Juster

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Officer Shrift Character Analysis

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.
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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
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
...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)
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
Officer Shrift says that, just as he expected, “boys are the cause of everything.” Officer Shrift won’t... (full context)
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
When Milo points out that only jailers can put people in prison, Officer Shrift again changes his clothes—he’s the jailer too. He leads Milo and Tock through a huge... (full context)
Chapter 6. Faintly Macabre’s Story
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
...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
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
...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)