The Phantom Tollbooth Chapter 20 Summary
by Norton Juster

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Chapter 20 Summary

Good-by and Hello

As he drives home, it suddenly occurs to Milo that he must have been gone for weeks, and he hopes no one has worried too much about him. The road starts to look more familiar and soon he arrives at the tollbooth, a welcome sight to the young boy. He deposits his coin and drives through; almost immediately he is sitting in the middle of his own room again.

Yawning, he notes it is only six o’clock and then realizes it is still today. He has only been gone for one hour and is amazed at how much he accomplished in such a short time. Milo is much too tired to talk or eat, so he goes to bed as soon as he can and drifts “into a deep and welcome sleep.”

The next day school goes by quickly, but Milo thinks only about getting home so he can see what new adventure the tollbooth has for him today. He arrives home and is excited to begin another journey and to see his friends again; however, when he gets to his room he is stunned to see nothing where the tollbooth was just last night. Although he searches frantically, he cannot find it. It has vanished as mysteriously as it came, and all he finds is another bright-blue envelope addressed very simply: “For Milo, who now knows the way.”

The letter inside says that Milo has completed his journey with the help of the Phantom Tollbooth. The writer hopes Milo will understand that there are many other boys and girls waiting to use it, so it cannot stay with him. There are many other lands for him to visit (some of which are not even on any map) and wonderful things for him to see (some of which have not even been imagined). If he really wants to see them, he will certainly find a way to reach them by himself. The signature on the letter is blurred, so Milo does not know who wrote it.

Milo settles into a large armchair and feels quite lonely as he thinks about his recent adventures. He misses all the friends he made and knows he will remember them always. Even as he thinks about these things, however, he looks outside his window and sees how beautiful everything is. There is so much for him “to see, and hear, and touch.” He has walks to take, hills to climb, nature to observe, things to hear and smell. Even in his own room there are things to read, build, break, play, and learn.

Suddenly everything seems new to him and worth doing. He hopes to make another trip one day, but there are so many things for him to do that he does not know when he will have the time to go.