The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by

Norton Juster

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The Lethargians Character Analysis

The Lethargians are small creatures who live in the Doldrums. There are many of them, and aside from the fact that they blend in with whatever they’re sitting on, they all look exactly the same. They explain to Milo that in the Doldrums, their entire purpose is to do nothing—they don’t want to do anything but waste time. Milo is, at first, totally at home with the Lethargians, but the watchdog Tock rescues him and impresses upon Milo the importance of thinking and using his time wisely.

The Lethargians Quotes in The Phantom Tollbooth

The The Phantom Tollbooth quotes below are all either spoken by The Lethargians or refer to The Lethargians. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bullseye Books edition of The Phantom Tollbooth published in 1988.
Chapter 2. Beyond Expectations Quotes

“That’s a ridiculous law,” said Milo, quite indignantly. “Everybody thinks.”

“We don’t,” shouted the Lethargians at once.

“And most of the time you don’t,” said a yellow one sitting in a daffodil. “That’s why you’re here. You weren’t thinking, and you weren’t paying attention either. People who don’t pay attention often get stuck in the Doldrums.” And with that he toppled out of the flower and fell snoring into the grass.

Milo couldn’t help laughing at the little creature’s strange behavior, even though he knew it might be rude.

“Stop that at once,” ordered the plaid one clinging to his stocking. “Laughing is against the law.”

Related Characters: Milo (speaker), The Lethargians (speaker)
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Phantom Tollbooth PDF

The Lethargians Character Timeline in The Phantom Tollbooth

The timeline below shows where the character The Lethargians appears in The Phantom Tollbooth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2. Beyond Expectations
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
...It blends in with his shirt. The creature introduces all of his kind as the Lethargians. Milo notices lots of creatures like the one on his shoulder. They all blend in... (full context)
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
When the Lethargian falls asleep and falls off the flower he’s sitting on, Milo laughs. Another Lethargian tells... (full context)
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
Yawning, Milo asks if everyone really does nothing. A Lethargian says that everyone except the watchdog does nothing. Another Lethargian shrieks that the watchdog is... (full context)