The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by

Norton Juster

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Phantom Tollbooth can help.
The Tollbooth Symbol Icon

The tollbooth represents imagination. Though it requires a coin to get through, Milo must also use his imagination to pass through the tollbooth to the Lands Beyond—once he arrives, he observes that what started as pretend has now become real. By passing through the tollbooth, Milo discovers how to use his imagination to amuse himself and to learn things. All he has to do is open himself up to some pretend play, and he can find himself somewhere fun and fantastical.

The tollbooth, though, isn’t intended to facilitate Milo’s imagination forever—rather, it’s a tool to teach him how to use his imagination and set himself up to be imaginative without a crutch. This is why the tollbooth disappears once Milo returns to his bedroom. Having learned how to use his imagination by passing through the tollbooth the first time, Milo can create fun for himself wherever he is, with whatever he has—not just because he has a shiny new toy to play with.

The Tollbooth Quotes in The Phantom Tollbooth

The The Phantom Tollbooth quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Tollbooth. 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 11. Dischord and Dynne Quotes

“Carry this with you on your journey,” he said softly, “for there is much worth noticing that often escapes the eye. Through it you can see everything from the tender moss in a sidewalk crack to the glow of the farthest star—and, most important of all, you can see things as they really are, not just as they seem to be. It’s my gift to you.”

Related Characters: Alec Bings (speaker), Milo
Related Symbols: Gifts, The Tollbooth
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20. Good-by and Hello Quotes

And, in the very room in which he sat, there were books that could take you anywhere, and things to invent, and make, and build, and break, and all the puzzle and excitement of everything he didn’t know—music to play, songs to sing, and worlds to imagine and then someday make real. His thoughts darted eagerly about as everything looked new—and worth trying.

“Well, I would like to make another trip,” he said, jumping to his feet; “but I really don’t know when I’ll have the time. There’s just so much to do right here.”

Related Characters: Milo (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Tollbooth
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Phantom Tollbooth LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Phantom Tollbooth PDF

The Tollbooth Symbol Timeline in The Phantom Tollbooth

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Tollbooth appears in The Phantom Tollbooth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1. Milo
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
...and inside, and the note in it reads that Milo has received “ONE GENUINE TURNPIKE TOLLBOOTH.” It’s supposedly easy to put together at home, and it’s for people who have “never... (full context)
Absurdity vs. Reason Theme Icon
Milo continues to read. The package supposedly contains a tollbooth, directions to put it together, three signs, coins, a map, and a rulebook. Milo follows... (full context)
Chapter 2. Beyond Expectations
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
...Milo is driving along a strange country highway. He can’t see his room or the tollbooth—this is real. Milo is confused. The only thing he knows for sure is that it’s... (full context)
Chapter 4. Confusion in the Market Place
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
...them back. All the money he has is the coin to get back through the tollbooth. (full context)
Chapter 20. Good-by and Hello
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Language, Wordplay, Fun, and Logic Theme Icon
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
...he realizes he’s been gone for weeks. He hopes no one is worried. Finally, the tollbooth comes into view. Milo drops in his coin and suddenly finds himself sitting in his... (full context)
Knowledge, Learning, and the Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Boredom, Beauty, and Modern Life Theme Icon
...day, Milo plans to go back to the Lands Beyond—but when he gets home, the tollbooth is gone. Instead, there’s an envelope addressed, “FOR MILO, WHO NOW KNOWS THE WAY.” Inside,... (full context)