In his quest for knowledge during "The Phantom TollBooth", Milo is accompanied by someone to ensure the proper use of time. However, the Humbug, who has no noticeable benefits, attends too. He is a foil to Tock’s plethora of good qualities and in another context, he could be considered irritating or even a petty Demon.
In an attempt to be in agreement with everyone instead of having his own opinions he was sent with Milo, although, “That was the last thing in the world he wanted to do.” (99). The Humbug is the first on island of Conclusions (165) by assuming the journey is easier than it actually is. With his lead, both Milo and Tock end up at Conclusions also. On the long swim back, Milo and Tock emerge soaked from the sea of Knowledge while the Humbug remains dry, enabling Milo to learn that the willingness to absorb Knowledge makes the difference. The Humbug, however, learns nothing, “That wasn’t bad at all…I must visit there again.” (170) he says immediately after. The Humbug cannot learn from his mistakes because other children need to make the same journey as Milo (thus the tollbooth keeps circulating). The Wordsnatcher claims to know the Humbug (207), and they both have similar interactions with the world by attempting to make themselves seem more intelligent. Despite his amount of negative qualities Milo still values him as a friend. The Humbug allows Milo to witness his bad examples, teaches him about toleration of flaws, and the value of humility by playing the role of antihero. He allows Milo to see that people can be well meaning without being perfect and that friends come in all packages. The Humbug teaches Milo about more than Reason, Perspective, Math and Language - he teaches Milo about how to treat others.
Word Count: 297