The Phantom Tollbooth Questions and Answers
by Norton Juster

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What does the Spelling Bee do with the words he says?

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In the fantasy novel The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, the main character is a boy named Milo who believes that life is boring and learning is pointless. One day, a tollbooth appears in his room. Having nothing better to do, Milo hops into the car that comes with the tollbooth and travels through the tollbooth to the Lands Beyond, where he meets a variety of humorous characters who all teach him a valuable lesson about the importance of education.

One of these characters is the Spelling Bee, an insufferable know-it-all who spells the words he says. This annoys those around him, but none more so than the character of the Humbug, who is even more of an insufferable know-it-all than the Spelling Bee. Because each of these characters thinks he is always right and the other wrong, they are in constant humorous conflict throughout the story.

Spelling out the words he says not only adds humor to the Spelling Bee's character, but it is also one of the ways through which Milo comes to appreciate the value of learning. Word play is an integral part of the humor of this novel, and the Spelling Bee's insistence on spelling his words creates some of the story's laughs.

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