The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by

Norton Juster

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The Soundkeeper lives in a fortress in the Valley of Sound and used to manufacture all sounds people needed. She’d then catalogue all sounds in her vast sound library. But, after people in the Valley of Sound moved to cities and stopped appreciating her beautiful sounds as much, Dr. Dischord “cured” them and made it so they couldn’t hear beautiful sounds anymore. In retaliation, the Soundkeeper decided to keep all sounds for herself. When Milo meets her, he discovers that while there’s no sound elsewhere in the Valley of Sound, the Soundkeeper herself can speak and even wears clothes with small bells and chimes sewn on. She initially tells Milo that she believes she did the right thing to take sound away from people if they weren’t going to appreciate the beautiful ones. But when Milo helps the valley’s residents knock down the fortress and release sounds, the Soundkeeper admits that she was wrong to do this. She sends Milo with a gift: a package of sounds that includes many laughs. Later, the laughs make it so that, in the Mountains of Ignorance, the Official Senses Taker can’t steal Milo’s sense of humor.

The Soundkeeper Quotes in The Phantom Tollbooth

The The Phantom Tollbooth quotes below are all either spoken by The Soundkeeper or refer to The Soundkeeper. 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 12. The Silent Valley Quotes

“Slowly at first, and then in a rush, more people came to settle here and brought with them new ways and new sounds, some very beautiful and some less so. But everyone was so busy with the things that had to be done that they scarcely had time to listen at all. And, as you know, a sound which is not heard disappears forever and is not to be found again.

“People laughed less and grumbled more, sang less and shouted more, and the sounds they made grew louder and uglier. It became difficult to hear even the birds or the breeze, and soon everyone stopped listening for them.”

Related Characters: Milo, Tock, The Humbug, The Soundkeeper
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

“It doesn’t make me happy to hold back the sounds,” she began softly, “for if we listen to them carefully they can sometimes tell us things far better than words.”

“But if that is so,” asked Milo—and he had no doubt that it was—“shouldn’t you release them?”

“NEVER!” she cried. “They just use them to make horrible noises which are ugly to see and worse to hear. I leave all that to Dr. Dischord and that awful, awful DYNNE.”

“But some noises are good sounds, aren’t they?” he insisted.

“That may be true,” she replied stubbornly, “but if they won’t make the sounds that I like, they won’t make any.”

Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13. Unfortunate Conclusions Quotes

“But it’s all my fault. For you can’t improve sound by having only silence. The problem is to use each at the proper time.”

Related Symbols: The Castle in the Air
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Soundkeeper Character Timeline in The Phantom Tollbooth

The timeline below shows where the character The Soundkeeper appears in The Phantom Tollbooth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12. The Silent Valley
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
The person writes that someone called the Soundkeeper lives in this valley. The king of Wisdom appointed her the guardian of all noises... (full context)
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
...valley, promising to cure everyone. He gave everyone medicine—and all the good noise disappeared. The Soundkeeper angrily chased Dr. Dischord from the valley, and then she banished all sounds. It’s been... (full context)
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
...the door. The door opens and a voice calls him into the parlor, where the Soundkeeper sits next to a huge silent radio. She says she has a busy listening schedule... (full context)
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
Milo politely asks how the Soundkeeper is doing. She says she’s not doing well, but she suggests that Milo must want... (full context)
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
At first, the Soundkeeper says yes—but then she says it’s against the rules. Milo follows the Soundkeeper to the... (full context)
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
The Soundkeeper says she doesn’t like keeping the sounds for herself. If people listen to the sounds... (full context)
Chapter 13. Unfortunate Conclusions
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
...once they clear, things return to normal. Only Milo, Tock, and the Humbug notice the Soundkeeper sitting on some rubble. (full context)
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
Milo apologizes to the Soundkeeper and Tock says they had to do it. The Soundkeeper says this is all her... (full context)
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
Milo announces that he’s going to rescue the princesses, so the Soundkeeper gives him a small wrapped gift. She says there are sounds in the package; a... (full context)