The Phantom Tollbooth Chapter 3 Summary
by Norton Juster

Start Your Free Trial

Download The Phantom Tollbooth Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapter 3 Summary

Welcome to Dictionopolis

Milo is thankful to have left the Doldrums and is thankful for the dog’s assistance. The dog is sure they will be friends and asks Milo to call him Tock. Of course the boy thinks it is odd for a dog that “goes tickticktickticktick all day” to be called Tock, so the dog explains the sad story.

His brother, the first pup in the family, was called Tick because everyone was sure that is the sound he would make; however, the unfortunate pup “went tocktocktocktocktocktock” all day. His parents tried to change his name officially but could not. When the Watchdog arrived, his parents assumed he would make the same sound and called him Tock, but of course that is not the case. Now both brothers are doomed to have the wrong names. After this disaster, his parents had no more children; instead, they devoted their lives to charity work.

Tock is a watchdog because his family has always been watchdogs. Once there was no such thing as time, something people found quite inconvenient. Time was invented to help people get to places and do things on time; however, because it seemed there was so much of it, people assumed it could not be very valuable. Suddenly people began to waste it and even give it away—until the watchdogs were assigned to make sure no one ever again wasted time.

As they drive, Tock explains the importance of time until they see the distant flags of Dictionopolis. Soon they arrive at the wall and then stand at the gate to the city, where they are greeted by a guard. Today is market day and the guard wonders whether Milo and Tock have come here to buy or to sell. When Milo searches for something to say, the guard volunteers to help him find a reason; he is certain he must have an old one Milo can use. He searches through an old suitcase full of reasons and finally holds up a small chain from which a medallion hangs. It says, “Why not?” The guard says this is a “good reason for almost anything,” even if it is a bit overused.

Milo and Tock enter...

(The entire section is 563 words.)