A Colorful Symphony
The travelers run through the forest until the Humbug suggests they might be lost. Alec is sitting on a high branch above the rest; he says they are not lost because they are right here, and he has no interest in being anywhere he is not. The travelers are confused by his logic. Alec points to a small house nestled between two of the largest trees and says they can ask the giant what he thinks. The nameplate reads “The Giant,” and the man who opens the door is perfectly ordinary in size and greets them graciously. He is the smallest giant in the world.
Milo asks the giant if they are lost, and the giant suggests they go around to the back of the house and ask the midget, Milo and Tock do as he suggests and find an identical door at the back of the cottage with a nameplate that reads “The Midget.” A man who looks exactly like the giant answers their knock; he is the tallest midget in the world. Milo asks the midget if they are lost, and the midget suggests they go to the side door of the house and ask the fat man.
The side door is similar to both the front and the back doors. They are warmly greeted by a man who could be the midget’s twin; he explains that he is the thinnest fat man in the world. If Milo and Tock have any questions, they should go to the other side of the house and ask the thinnest man in the world. As they expect, that door is the same and is opened by a man who looks exactly like the other three men.
When Milo insists that all four men in the house are actually the same, the man tells Milo not to ruin everything. To tall men, he is a midget and to short men he is a giant; to skinny men he is fat but to fat men he is thin. Because of this, he can hold four jobs at once. He is really quite ordinary. However, there are so many ordinary men that no one asks their opinions about anything.
Milo again asks if the man thinks they are lost. The man explains that sometimes where a person is going is where he is; on the other hand, where a person has been is often not at all where he ought to have gone. He suggests they go back to someplace they have never left and then decide if they should or should not have gone there. If they have any more questions, they should ask the giant.
The group arrives at a large clearing. Many people in the forest live in a large city called Reality. Off to the left is a city where rooftops shine like mirrors, walls glisten with precious jewels, and streets are paved in silver; this city is Illusions. They are actually standing in Reality, right in the middle of Main Street. No matter how hard they look, the travelers see nothing. Alec, however, seems to see many things; he tips his hat at passers-by and points out several sights the others cannot see.
(The entire section contains 806 words.)
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Phantom Tollbooth study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Phantom Tollbooth content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.
- Chapter Summaries
- Teaching Guide