By Nabokov Vladmir
By Nabokov Vladmir
Vladmir Nabokov grew up in Russia and moved to England in his early adult years. He was fluent in Russian, French, and English from early on in his life, though he did not write in English until he moved to the United States when he was forty-one years old in 1940. Nabokov taught at Wellesley and Cornell Universities in the United States and dreamed of writing a best-selling novel in English.
Though he was not a proponent of Freudian ideals he did see the appeal of Freud’s concepts for the sake of literature and thus came up with “Lolita”, a story that centers on a professor who develops sexual feelings for his preteen stepdaughter. “Lolita” was turned down by multiple American publishers because of its racy and controversial subject matter but was eventually published in France.
After becoming immensely popular on the French underground and receiving critical acclaim Penguin finally published “Lolita” in 1958. Many countries have banned “Lolita” because of its content and the nature of the sexual relationships, though it has become a best-selling American novel.
At the time “Lolita” was written it was considered seriously taboo and ahead of its time. Many countries and critics found it extremely scandalous, though Nabokov was not so concerned with writing a realistic story so much as creating a postmodern piece of literature that concentrated more on the use of sophistic language, evocation of emotion, and skilful use of literary devices.
Despite the mixed reviews and controversial content, “Lolita” has managed to stand the test of time and emerge as one of the most successful and well-known novels of all time.
The novel opens in a forward written by fictional doctor John Ray Jr. He explains that he received a manuscript from a man going by the name of HumbertHumbert (H.H.) who has recently died in prison while awaiting trial.
Humbert’s story begins when he is a thirteen year old boy, who is in love with his twelve year old friend Annabel, and he is devastated by her death shortly thereafter. He spends time getting mental help and becomes a professor of English, but remains haunted by her death and attracted to particularly young girls. Humbert moves to the United States and meets a widow named Charlotte Haze and her young daughter Dolores, who is also known as Lolita.
Humbert hates Charlotte but wishes to be close to Lolita so when Charlotte dies in an unexpected accident Humbert takes Lolita on a road trip. They share a torrid, strange, and controversial relationship where she uses him, and he loves her.
Eventually Lolita wishes to make friends her own age which sends Humbert into a jealous rage and he takes her on another trip, feeling as though they are being followed. Humbert takes Lolita to the hospital when she is ill and when he returns to pick her up he discovers she has left with her “uncle”. Humbert spends the next two years looking for Lolita, eventually receiving a letter from her asking for money and explaining that she is married and pregnant at seventeen.
When Humbert meets up with Lolita he tries to convince her to come back to him, but she refuses. She tells Humbert that Clare Quilty, a playwright, had taken her from the hospital but gotten rid of her when she refused to participate in child pornography. Humbert gives Lolita money and then leaves her to track down Quilty.
Humbert shoots and kills Quilty, which is why he is awaiting trial. Upon sending his manuscript to John Ray, he specifies that it not be published until Lolita dies, which she does in childbirth, with Humbert dying shortly after.
Humbert Humbert (H.H)
Humbert is the narrator of the story, an Englishman with an air of sophistication and cultural appreciation who deems American culture as inferior, though he appreciates the freedom. Humbert has a fetish for young girls after losing his girlfriend when they were both young, and develops an unhealthy sexual relationship with his stepdaughter, Lolita.
Humbert sends his manuscript, or confession and plea, to a psychologist named John Ray while he awaits trial for murder. He killed Clare Quilty, a fellow pedophile whom Lolita left him for. Humbert has a beautiful way with words and turns his confession of guilt into a romantic story of lust, love, and loss, making him seem less of a monster to anyone reading.
Lolita is what Humbert refers to as a “nymphet”. He claims that their relationship was a result of her seductions, rather than of his pedophilic lust. Lolita is attracted to Humbert at first and competes with her mother, Charlotte, for his attention, which he gladly gives her.
Eventually she gets bored with the intellect and culture she once found attractive and sets her sites on other men. She is more attached to American culture than interested in European culture and thus finds American guys more appealing. She falls for the older Clare Quilty, but he leaves her after she refuses to participate in child pornography.
Charlotte is the mother of Lolita. When Humbert moves to the United States, he stays with Charlotte and falls for her daughter. To stay close to Lolita, Humbert decides he will marry Charlotte though he not only does not love her, but he cannot stand her.
Charlotte is blinded by Humbert’s European sophistication and aspires to be on his level but is never more than a housewife. Charlotte finds Humbert’s journal where he documents his hatred for her and his feelings for Lolita. Charlotte confronts Humbert about what she has read, and he adamantly denies it, though she has the evidence. Charlotte storms off in anger and is hit by a car, which kills her.
Quilty is present for most of the novel though he does not seem significant until the very end. Quilty is extremely similar to Humbert in that he is a sophisticated older man who has a passion for young girls. He follows Humbert and Lolita for most of the novel and eventually kidnaps her from the hospital, though she is willing to go with him because she is in love with him. When Lolita refuses to be a part of his child pornography he gets bored with her and leaves. Upon hearing of Quilty’s relationship with Lolita, Humbert shoots Quilty, and he dies.
Annabel is Humbert’s girlfriend when they are both kids. Annabel’s family used to vacation at the hotel that was owned by Humbert’s family. Humbert is extremely smitten with Annabel, and though they do have a physical relationship they do not have sex.
Annabel comes down with typhus, which kills her, and Humbert never gets over her death, even after undergoing mental help. Humbert’s lust for Annabel continued throughout his life and is shadowed in his lust for other preteen girls, such as Lolita. Humbert has an unhealthy obsession with Annabel after her death that only comes to end when he moves his infatuation and obsession on to Lolita.
John Ray, PhD.
John Ray is the psychologist who opens the novel and whom Humbert has sent a copy of his manuscript. Ray is instructed to only publish the manuscript upon the death of Lolita, which he honors.
John Ray finds Humbert’s case to be fascinating and believes that his manuscript will be studied in psychology circles for many years to come. He does not believe that Humbert is insane, but rather an extremely damaged man. Ray looks at Humbert’s case from a simplistic psychological point of view, which serves as an outlet for Nabokov’s distrust in psychology.
Ray serves as a means for Nabokov to mock the simplistic logic, that he feels psychologists employ.
Valeria was Humbert’s first wife. He married her in an attempt to mask and diminish his attraction for young girls, thinking that a normal domestic life will do the trick. Ironically, what attracted Humbert to Valeria was the fact that she reminded him of a young girl in her appearance and mannerisms.
Humbert viewed Valeria as intellectually inferior to him and often exerts his dominance over her. Eventually, when Humbert decides to move to America, Valeria leaves him for a Russian cab driver. Years later Valeria dies in California where she and her husband were participating in mysterious experiments.
Rita is the woman who Humbert half-heartedly attempted to have a relationship with after Lolita disappeared from the hospital. Rita was an alcoholic but exceptionally kind and goodhearted. Rita drove around the United States for two years with Humbert, in search of Lolita, and she is the only older woman Humbert had ever been involved with that he spoke well of.
He insults her intelligence, of course, and views her as inferior to himself, but does find her amazingly kind and levels above both Charlotte and Valeria. Rita is often in trouble with the law and fears she will lose Humbert because of this, but he finds absolute comfort in her presence.
John is married to Jean, and they are friends of Humbert and Charlotte. When Charlotte dies, John is left in charge of her estate. He eventually decides that the situation is too complicated for him to handle and he passes the responsibility off to a lawyer.
Upon the death of his wife, John moves to South America where he lives with the Spanish girl. John learns that there are people who are interested in Charlotte’s house and once it is sold Humbert gets the money for it, which is what he gives to Lolita when she comes to him asking for a handout.
Jean is the wife of John and a friend of Humbert and Charlotte. Though Charlotte and Humbert spend time with few people, Jean is one of them. After Charlotte dies, Jean tells Humbert that she has had a crush on him for some time, and she kisses him.
She understands that they will not have a relationship but does tell him that she hopes they will meet again sometime. Jean dies at anunusually young age after she is overcome with cancer. Upon her death John moves to South America.
Gaston is a friend of Humbert and also a professor at Beardsley College. Gaston got Humbert his teaching job and is one of the few people Humbert became close with. Humbert of course finds Gaston’s intelligence inferior to his own and thus finds him harmless.
Humbert and Gaston would often play chess together, and Gaston was allowed to visit Humbert’s home only because he was extremely unobservant and would never guess of Humbert’s relationship with Lolita, mostly because he does not pay the slightest attention to Lolita. It is assumed and implied that Gaston’s interests lie in young men, rather than women.
Dick is Lolita’s husband who is deaf in one ear. He is an honest, good natured, hard-working guy who seems to be exceedingly fond of Lolita, whom he calls “Dolly”. He has no idea of Lolita’s past with Humbert or Clare Quilty.
Lolita is not crazy about Dick in the same way she was with Quilty, but she finds him to be a decent guy, and she is pregnant with his child so she holds on to him. Dick and Lolita plan to move to Alaska together where they will start a new life.
Mona is a close friend of Lolita’s at the Beardsley School for Girls and knows of Lolita’s relationship with Humbert. Mona is also sexually experienced with older men, most notably a Marine, and Lolita thinks she has her sights set on Humbert next.
She obviously does have a crush on Humbert though he is not interested in her, only in the secrets he knows she holds. Humbert finds her too loyal to Lolita because she covers for Lolita whenever she does something wrong. When Humbert finds out that Lolita has not been going to her piano lessons, Mona lies for her.
Mrs. Pratt is the headmistress at the Beardsley School and puts a strong emphasis on the sexual development of the girls at her school over their intellectual growth. Mrs. Pratt feels as though Lolita is not developing sexually, although she has a frequent and intense sexual relationship with Humbert.
Ironically, Humbert is appalled by Mrs. Pratt’s concern with the girls’ sexual progress. Humbert believes that Mrs. Pratt is crazy and not of sound mind because she feels as though Gaston is on the level of a genius and that Lolita’s eyes are blue, which Humbert denies.
Ivor is a well-liked dentist and the uncle of Clare Quilty. Ivor has been a friend of the Haze family for a frightfully long time and has no idea of his nephew’s relationship with Lolita Haze or his other unhealthy sexual ideals; he merely refers to him as a “rascal” who he seems to be quite fond of.
When Humbert is searching for Clare to exact revenge on him for his treatment of Lolita, he pretends that he needs dental work and visits with Ivor. Ivor gives Humbert the information he needs to find Clare, not knowing Humbert’s real intentions.
Language is supremely powerful in “Lolita” because it is the way Humbert displays his emotions and tells his story. By using poetic language to tell his story, he tries to make it seem less scandalous because of the level of his education.
He is constantly talking about words and his ability to use them better than others, and essentially his superior grasp of the English language. He finds a way to make the horrific subject matter of the novel endearing and enchanting because of the way he tells the story, making the reader listen to his words but not his story.
Humbert seems to be aware that there is a moral and ethical issue with his actions, but it seems that he is only accepting that his actions are unethical because he knows that in society they are, but he does not truly seem to think he has done anything wrong.
He states that Lolita seduced him, that, in some cultures, their relationship would be perfectly acceptable, and that he still had psychological issues from his loss of Annabel. He calls himself a monster because he knows that is how is viewed, but it is uncertain if, and unlikely that, he finds anything wrong with his actions.
Lust is certainly a cornerstone of this novel because it is where the problems begin. Humbert first lusted after Annabel, his first love, until she abruptly died of illness and he never got over that lust. Humbert continued to be attracted to girls who were the same age as Annabel as he got older, though they all stayed the same age.
Humbert’s lust for Lolita, possibly mistaken for love, kept him obsessing over her even after she refused him. Lolita new that Humbert’s unyielding lust for her was a powerful hand to play, and she held it close, using the lust to get her own way.
Love, in the context of this novel, seems to be a mutually inclusive concept with lust. They appear to be one in the same because Humbert insists that he is in love with Lolita, though it seems as though he is simply lusting, and rather infatuated with her, most likely due to psychological reasons.
Humbert also believes that Lolita loves him, though she obviously is just playing him to get whatever she wants. The love/lust limbo that Humbert is in causes him to trek Lolita across the country more than once, search for her for two years, and murder someone in a jealous rage.
Jealousy is an emotion that Humbert is acutely familiar with. Throughout his relationship with Lolita, he becomes increasingly paranoid that she is going to leave him for someone else, or that she is being unfaithful to him. Whenever he feels he is losing her, he takes her on a trip where it is just the two of them so she is not distracted by anyone else.
Humbert does not want Lolita to be around guys her own age, fearing she will want to be with one of them, and even accuses her of being in cahoots with their “stalker”. When Humbert kills Quilty, he is partially doing it out of jealousy and partially because he tried to make Lolita participate in child pornography, which is ironic because he, himself, is a pedophile.
One of the reasons that this novel has been so controversial and taboo is because of its blatant reference to, and dedication to, pedophilia. Humbert not only has an illegal relationship with the preteen Lolita, but through his use of words makes the relationship seem beautiful and magical.
A man like Humbert should be locked away for his pedophilic urges, though ironically it is not his pedophilia that puts him in jail but murder he committed in a jealous rage. Though the ethical dilemma of Humbert and Lolita’s relationship is clearly stated, it is somewhat romanticized in this novel and, in a way, condoned, as the narrator is the pedophile.
Innocence, or in this case, lack of innocence, is central to “Lolita”. Lolita’s character should be the innocent, as she is a young girl who has yet to experience the world, but Humbert portrays her as a nymph who seduces him, clearly far too experienced for her young years.
Humbert states that he is a monster, but it is unlikely that he believes his own words because clearly he feels the victim in his situation. He feels he is not innocent, but the other people involved are even less innocent than he. Humbert’s innocence, if he ever had any, was taken from him as a boy and he spends his life searching for that innocence in the form of extremely young girls like Lolita.
While the novel appears to tell a love story with beautiful words, it is, in fact, a confession written by a man awaiting trial for murder. Lolita gets her justice with Humbert by using him and throwing him away, Humbert gets his justice on Quilty by killing him, and the system gets its justice on Humbert by putting him on trial for a murder that he obviously committed.
Justice is seen in many forms though the novel romanticizes all of Humbert’s loathsome actions to make himself seem less deplorable. Humbert looks to the readers to determine his guilt, and whether or not justice has been, or should be, served.
The Difference Between American and European Cultures
Humbert makes no secret of the superiority he feels over Americans and their silly cultural ideals. Charlotte is attracted to him more for the sophistication she sees in his background and the assumptions she has about European culture.
Humbert thinks that Americans are superficial and simple-minded with no reverence for art or culture, and he tries to sophisticate Lolita though she grows bored of his intellectualism. Humbert learns that, while he does deem himself superior, he enjoys the freedoms of America and he falls for Lolita despite the fact that she is everything he hates about American culture.
Humbert has anextensive distaste for psychology and feels it holds no merit. He shares his exceptional disdain for Freud, though Humbert’s pedophilic relationship with Lolita could be explained or interpreted according to Freudian ideals. He got some mental help after the death of Annabel, though that did not seem to help him and becomes even more of a skeptic.
Humbert, as Nabokov, views psychology as overly simplistic in its explanations. Humbert is interested in listening to psychologists but does not deem them as superior minds. John Ray presses the reader to see Humbert as damaged, but not insane, which could be Nabokov’s way of mocking the psychological world.
In the foreword, we meet John Ray, Jr. PhD. Who receives a manuscript from a man named Humbert Humbert, or H.H.Humbert was awaiting trial when he wrote it, though he died of heart failure before going to trial. Humbert wished for Ray to edit and publish the manuscript for him but asked that he wait for the death of Lolita, the title character, before he did so.
Ray states that the manuscript is entirely true, and the only changes he made to it were to the characters names to protect their anonymity, except for Lolita whose name he felt he could not change because of how central she is to the plot, and Humbert Humbert who picked his own pseudonym.
Ray states that he researched the events therein and determined them to be factual, though some characters did not wish to be associated. Ray tells the reader that they may find what they read to be offensive due to the sordid subject matter, though the language is beautiful. Ray believes H.H.’s manuscript will become immensely popular in the psychological world, and he thinks parents should read it to educate them on how to better raise their children.
Humbert refers to the readers as the “jury”, his manuscript obviously acting as his confession, explanation, and possibly his plea. He mentions Lolita, his love, and the many names she goes by: Dorothy, Dolly, Lo, and of course, Lolita. He admits to the reader that he is, in fact, a murderer, but he is also an excellent writer and master of words and implies that this story is one of love.
As he sets out to tell the tale of his darkness and his questionable deeds, he states that Lolita was not the first young girl he fell for; there was another whom he refers to as “exhibit number one”. H.H. begins to present his case to his “jury”, the audience.
Humbert was born in Paris in 1910 where he was raised by his father, who was often absent due to business and his Aunt Sybil, who was quite strict. Humbert’s mother who was a singularly beautiful woman died suddenly early in his life. He describes the tragic event of his mother’s death with only the words “picnic, lightning.”
Humbert’s father owned anextremely elegant hotel on the Riviera and Humbert enjoyed spending his time there amongst the tourists, where he says he had a truly happy and healthy childhood. At the hotel, Humbert met Annabel Leigh, a girl whose family was vacationing there.
Before Humbert met, Annabel his entire sexual experience came from French movies and books, rather than with actual girls. When he met Annabel, his father was not around so he did not have anyone to ask any sexual questions he may have had.
Humbert met Annabel in the summer of 1943 when he was thirteen years old, and she was twelve. His recollection of their time together seems rather vague and blurry because he has a difficulty remembering any love that came before Lolita.
Annabel’s parents were decidedly strict and rarely took their eyes off of her, which made it devilishly difficult for Humbert and Annabel to have a physical relationship. They could most certainly not have sex and instead had to settle for meager physical contact, such as holding hands on the beach, but only under the sand.
They fall in love, as much as adolescents can, and though Humbert does not remember her clearly he does remember their unsuccessful attempts at a sexual relationship. Humbert remembers a photo taken of Annabel where she is not looking at the camera and that they tried to have sex after that photo was taken. Four months later, Annabel comes down with typhus and dies, scarring Humbert for anawful long time.
Humbert informs the reader that he believes his pedophilic nature began with Annabel though they were both kids at the time. He loved Annabel darned much and, unlike Lolita, she reciprocated.
He recalls a time when they came the closest to having sex, in the Mimosa field. Humbert muses that Lolita began with Annabel, perhaps meaning that Lolita was a second chance with Annabel for him, strengthened by the fact that he did actually get to have sex with Lolita, though he did not get to have sex with Annabel.
Humbert believes that the kind of connection he and Annabel had was spiritual and true and adolescents these days would not understand the feelings they had for one another. Humbert believes that he was under a spell with Annabel that was not broken by her death, but possibly make stronger. He did not break from this spell until he met Lolita more than twenty years later.
Humbert tells of his college years, when he begins as a Psychology major but changes his concentration to English Literature and even publishes a few books. Humbert spends time with various women, mostly prostitutes, but is attracted to one type of female in particular, which he called a nymphet.
A nymphet, according to Humbert, is a girl between the ages of nine and fourteen, who does not have to be particularly attractive, but sexually appealing. He also states that there must be a ten year age gap, at least, or the girl does not qualify as a nymphet. According to his rules, Annabel was not a nymphet but the catalyst for his interest in them.
Humbert knows that to have a relationship with a young girl would be extremely taboo so he fights the urge and instead admires them from afar at the park or while walking down the street. Humbert mostly restrained himself from acting on his urges, but did point out that in many cultures and in literature his urges would not have been taboo, but the norm in many cases.
Humbert muses as to whether the fact that he loved Annabel but did not get to have sex with her fueled his desires for nymphets. He also begins to wonder what happens to nymphets when then grow to be women. Humbert has an affair with a remarkably young prostitute, Monique, whom he tires of when she grows out of her nymphet stage.
Humbert ditches Monique on a quest for a new nymphet and he meets a woman who introduces him to another young prostitute. When Humbert meets her, he decides that she is not a nymphet to him, though he goes upstairs with her anyway because she gets upset when he tries to leave. Humbert does not have sex with the prostitute because he is not sexually attracted to her, though he still pays her.
After his unsuccessful attempt to find a nymphet Humbert decides to try to push away his sexual urges and get married to a grown woman. He begins to court Valeria, the daughter of a Polish doctor. Soon, Humbert and Valeria get married because Humbert believes that if he actively participates in domestic life he may change his ways.
Humbert finds himself to be quite the catch because of his intelligence, and his angelic looks and states that finding a woman to marry him was a remarkably easy task. He feels that his only shortcoming is in the area of sex where he feels that he is a bit of a failure. Though he is not attracted to adult women he finds smashing success with them, but he does feel that sexually he is hopeless as he has no libido for adult women.
Humbert reveals that he chose Valeria because though she was too old to be a nymphet, she did resemble one with her mannerisms and girlish hairdo. He eventually learns, after four years of marriage, that she is in love with a Russian cab driver and is leaving him. Humbert is terribly upset, though not that she is cheating but that he stayed away from nymphets for so long for nothing.
He later finds out that Valeria died during childbirth after her and her husband moved to California to participate in crazy psychological experiments. Humbert learns that his uncle passed away and left him an inheritance, but he must move to America to receive it because he has to look over his uncle’s business, which Humbert agrees to.
Humbert then begins discussing the prison library and the awful selection of books they have though he recalls two names that stood out to him in a “Who’s Who” book: Quilty, Clare and Quine, Dolores. He is excited by the name Dolores because that was Lolita’s real name, and he begins a word play on Clare Quilty, “guilty of killing quilty”, and such but the reader has no idea what this means at the present time.
Humbert moves to New York City where he transcribes French literature and life is boring for him. He spends a lot of time in Central Park watching the nymphets and eventually has a mental breakdown due to stress and ends up in an institution.
When he gets out he goes on a trip to the Arctic where it is his job to develop psychological profiles on the people he is with. He is not a massive fan of the trip because according to him there are no nymphets in the Arctic regions.
The trip does raise his spirits, but he grows bored with it quickly and amuses himself by writing fake analyses of his travel mates. When he returns to New York he again is admitted to the mental institution.
While institutionalized he entertains himself by giving the doctors false symptoms to diagnose. He finds this amusing because, in his mind, he is proving that he is more clever and intelligent than they are by misleading them. He finds it even more amusing that they assume he is gay. He stays there for a few months before heading back to the real world.
Humbert decides to get out of the city life and move to the New England countryside. He knows of a man named Mr. McCoo who will likely allow him to stay with him and has an appealing twelve year old daughter, but when he arrives he finds that the house has burned down.
Mr. McCoo sends Humbert to see Charlotte Haze, a widow who will undoubtedly allow him to stay with her. He is turned off by the outside appearance of her home, and when he gets inside it is worse, with a fake air of sophistication and fake French artwork and antiques.
When Humbert sees Charlotte he discovers that she is the epitome of a middle-aged American housewife in his eyes, extraordinarily dull and conventional to a fault. He is displeased with the house until he discovers Charlotte has a twelve year old daughter named Dolores who reminds him of Annabel. Once he sees Dolores he knows he must stay.
Humbert remembers the diary he kept when he lived at the Haze house in 1947. The diary no longer exists, but Humbert remembers everything he wrote about Dolores, or Lolita as she is referred to, in detail. He knows that he should not record such taboo feelings on paper, but he feels as though he cannot help it.
He remembers every detail about her, from her ankle bones, to her clothing, the way she smelled, her accent and use of slang, and the way she looked when taking the clothes off the clothesline. He dreamed of killing Charlotte, whom he refers to as “mother Haze”, to be closer to Lolita without being hovered over.
Humbert finds out that he looks like a celebrity that Lolita likes, and he is terribly excited by this news. Charlotte teases Lolita for having a crush on Humbert and Humbert delights in this idea, though he knows he cannot act on his urges with Charlotte around so he contains himself and keeps imagining killing her.
Humbert, Charlotte, and Lolita had been planning a trip to Hourglass Lake for some time though the trip kept being postponed due to circumstances coming up. Humbert was at first excited for the picnic but then disappointed when he learned a friend of Lolita’s from school would be joining them on their trip.
Humbert gets lost in ideas of how to pleasure himself through Lolita without actually having sex with her. He also thinks a lot about fate and how it brought him to this point in his life. He learns that an elderly woman named Mrs. Phalen had been living with the Hazes, but she had fallen and broken her hip and was unable to live with them anymore, thereby opening her room up.
Had Mrs. Phalen not broken her hip Humbert would not have moved in nor would he have met his dream nymphet, Lolita.
A Sunday arrives when Humbert, Lolita, and Charlotte think they will be able to go on their picnic, but it falls through again. Lolita is extremely upset by this news and refuses to accompany her mother to church and instead stays home with Humbert.
Humbert is terribly excited about this, and he and Lolita spend the day flirting on the couch. Humbert directs his speech to the “jury” at this point because he knows the story he is about to tell is delicate and quite distasteful to many people.
Lolita suggestively (in Humbert’s eyes) eats an apple and he teases her by taking it away. She sings a song and wrestles with Humbert to get a magazine he is keeping from her. Humbert loves having Lolita’s body rub all over him, and he keeps it going as long as possible until he eventually has an orgasm. Lolita eventually gets up and walks away from him, seemingly never having noticed what happened.
Humbert is mightily pleased with himself for managing to reach sexual satisfaction without actually committing an offense or taking advantage of Lolita’s purity and innocence. He wonders how he could get away with doing the same thing again without her noticing, but worries that, if he keeps doing it, he will ruin her purity, which is part of her appeal in the first place.
Charlotte informs Humbert that she will be sending Lolita to summer camp for a few weeks and Humbert is terribly upset by this news, which Charlotte notices. Humbert tells Charlotte that he winced because he has a toothache and she recommends a dentist for him. She tells him that Dr. Ivor Quilty is a fabulous dentist and is somehow related to a famous playwright.
Lolita is extremely upset that her mother is sending her to camp, and she spends her time pouting in her bedroom while she reads comic books. Charlotte tells Lolita that Humbert agreed with her decision to send Lolita to camp, and she is upset that he would be a traitor. Humbert considers actually leaving the Haze house while Lolita is gone but decides against it.
Charlotte shows no sympathy for Lolita’s tears as she complains to Humbert that Lolita is becoming anextraordinarily bad girl. Humbert worries that while Lolita is off at camp she may meet a boy and become damaged goods, then she would no longer be a nymphet. He explains that, by this point, he has already begun to love Lolita forever and would still love her even though she was about to turn thirteen. He describes her physical qualities in disturbingly sick detail.
Before Lolita leaves for camp, she gives Humbert a kiss on the lips that convinces him to stay and wait for her.
Humbert is totally overcome by emotion and sexual desire when Lolita kisses him. When he returns to the house Louise, the Haze family maid, hands him a note from Charlotte. In the note, Charlotte declares her love for Humbert and requests that he leave the house unless he feels the same way about her, in that case he can stay and must marry her.
She uses sappy and incorrect French phrases which disgust Humbert, and he throws her letter in the toilet. He walks around the house totally flabbergasted and disgusted and trying to figure out what to do. He finds himself in Lolita’s bedroom where he sees an ad on the wall with a man whom resembles Humbert and sees that she has written “H.H.” underneath it, which he is touched by.
Humbert considers marrying Charlotte so he can stay near to Lolita. He has the idea to give both Charlotte and Lolita sleeping pills so that he can fondle Lolita, but he decides that he would not have sex with her, or he would try not to. He decides that he will marry Charlotte so that he can stay close to Lolita and he calls the summer camp to tell her so, but she has already left.
Instead, Humbert speaks with Lolita and tells her of his plans to marry her mother though Lolita does not seem interested in what he is saying because she has already forgotten about him since being at camp.
Humbert decides he will have plenty of time to win Lolita over after he is married to Charlotte and he begins to drink quite heavily while waiting for Charlotte to get home so he can tell her the news.
Charlotte is excited by the news that she will be married to Humbert and the planning starts right away. Charlotte genuinely loves her role as Humbert’s future wife and becomes extremely domesticated.
Humbert decides that Charlotte is much prettier now, as being in love seems to agree with her. He also rather enjoys some aspects of their engagement, such as the fact that Charlotte now waits on him day in and day out, bringing him anything he needs. When Humbert thinks terrible things about Charlotte he just reminds himself that Charlotte is the closest person in the world to the nymphet he covets.
Charlotte becomes more social than ever before and decorates the house, perhaps to be ready for potential company. She is close friends with John and Jean Farlow, and Humbert becomes friends with them as well, by association. Rosaline, the niece of the Farlow’s, goes to school with Lolita.
Humbert begins to tell the reader about his new wife and warns the audience that Charlotte will soon suffer a terrible accident. Charlotte is extremely jealous of any women that may speak to Humbert and supremely possessive of him. She wants to know every detail of his life and she pries incessantly.
When Charlotte asks Humbert about his sexual relationships with other women he makes up stories to tell her to satisfy her curiosity and she seems not only satisfied by his revelations but excited by them and proceeds to tell him every detail of her various, and many, sexual encounters. Humbert is not interested in what she has to tell him unless it has to do with Lolita, whom she speaks of rarely except to complain about her.
Humbert is not particularly happy with her disdain for her daughter and is even less happy with the fact that Charlotte wants to have a baby with him. Humbert seems excited at the idea of being Lolita’s father and having an incestuous relationship.
In the last week of the summer, Charlotte and Humbert head to the lake with John and Jean Farlow. Charlotte tells Humber of her desire to fire Louise and get a “real” maid and also to send Lolita to boarding school as soon as she gets back from camp.
Humbert is obviously outraged by this information, but he knows if he protests then Charlotte will begin to suspect his feelings for Lolita. He imagines murdering Charlotte right then and there but knows he cannot because John and Jean are with them.
Jean was working on a painting a little further down the beach, and when she returns to Charlotte and Humbert she begins to tell a story about Ivor Quilty’s nephew, the playwright. She is interrupted when John walks down the beach toward them.
Humbert tries giving Charlotte the silent treatment because he is mad at her, but it does not work. Charlotte keeps herself busy by talking on the phone all day, mailing letters to people, and doing housework. One day Charlotte informs Humbert that they will be taking a trip to Europe, which Humbert refuses to do.
Charlotte immediately feels sorry for making plans without consulting Humbert, and he again has the upper hand in their relationship. He tells Charlotte that he is allergic to Europe because he had a lot of unpleasant experiences there. Charlotte immediately apologizes and wants to have make-up sex. Humbert goes into his study and pretends to do some work to get away from Charlotte.
She notices one day that he keeps his desk drawer locked and asks what is in it, and Humbert jokes with her that there are love letters in there. He immediately begins to wonder if there is any way she can get into the drawer without the key.
Humbert and Charlotte find out that Lolita cannot get into the boarding school until January and Humbert decides that this would be a good time to get some more powerful sleeping pills so he can fondle Lolita in her sleep. When he goes to the doctor, he slips up and tells him that he was in a mental institution though he gets the pills anyway.
When he returns home, he finds that Charlotte has gotten in his desk drawer and read his diary. She is furious at the information that he hates her and has been lusting after Lolita. He tells Charlotte that the diary was not his true feelings, just notes he was taking for a book he wanted to write. Charlotte did not believe him and told him that she was going to move out and had already started writing letters to people that she was meaning to send out as soon as possible.
When Humbert went into the kitchen to get a drink he got a call that Charlotte had been hit by a car and killed. He did not believe it because he had just left her in the living room, but when he went to look for her, she was gone.
Humbert rushes outside where he discovers that Charlotte tripped in some wet cement and fell into the path of a car which killed her on impact. Humbert takes the letters she was going to mail off her dead body without anyone noticing and later reads the letters before destroying them.
He begins drinking, and when he sees John and Jean Furlow he implies to them that he and Charlotte had an affair years ago and lets them make the assumption that Lolita is Humbert’s biological daughter. Humbert asks them not to tell Lolita about her mother’s death, he would do it alone. Humbert plans to take Lolita on a road trip when she returns from camp.
The man who was driving the car that hit and killed Charlotte is named Frederick Beale, Jr. Mr. Beale apologized for the accident but did maintain that it was Charlotte’s fault because she fell in front of his car, to which Humbert agreed.
Humbert begins to feel terribly guilty for not getting rid of his diary after Charlotte’s death, because someone else could find it now, and it was the thing that actually led to Charlotte’s accident. Humbert thinks about how attractive he is and how any woman would be crazy not to fall for him.
Many adult women seem to be attracted to him, and he understands why. Jean Farlow seems to be no exception because as Humbert is leaving to pick Lolita up from camp and head out on the road trip, Jean plants a lusty kiss right on Humbert’s lips and tells him that she hopes they meet again someday.
Humbert spends a lot of time thinking about his attraction to Lolita and the circumstances in life that brought her to him. He wonders how he will spring Lolita from the camp because he is not sure if she already knows Charlotte has died, or if he should say that Charlotte is just sick. He has time to think about it because when he arrives he hears that Lolita is on a two-day hike and will not be back for some time.
While he is waiting for Lolita he decides to buy her some presents, such as clothing, to give her when he sees her. Humbert knows Lolita’s measurements because he fantasizes about her underage body all the time and finds ample erotic pleasure in thinking about it while he shops. He also decides to make reservations for them at a hotel called the Enchanted Hunters, which is a hotel that Charlotte mentioned to him before she died.
Humbert, in real time, sitting in his prison cell, considers not telling the rest of his story, as it gets only more gruesome from here. He thinks about how much he hates being in jail and the harsh realities of it. Humbert tells the reader that he is not exactly sure on the order of the events that occurred in his life, and with Lolita, but he is extremely focused on Lolita herself, her name, and the date August 15, 1947. He requests that whoever may publish his manuscript fill up the rest of the page with Lolita’s name written over and over.
Humbert does not sleep at all the night before he goes to pick up Lolita and actually considers being a real father figure to her once he does, rather than try to take advantage of her innocence. He quickly dismisses this idea and gets Lolita from camp, telling her that her mother is in the hospital with some sort of abdominal problem.
Lolita does not seem to care much about her mother’s problem instead telling Humbert that she was a dirty girl at camp and not faithful to him at all. She flirtatiously kisses him right as a cop comes up and asks them if they have seen a blue sedan, which they have not. When they get to the hotel, Lolita tries to give Humbert kissing lessons, and they discover that there is no cot for Lolita to sleep in so they will have to share a cot, which Lolita coyly replies, will be incest.
At dinner, Lolita sees her favorite celebrity, the playwright Quilty, whom Humbert mistakes for the dentist. Later that night Humbert gives Lolita a sleeping pill and leaves the room letting her drift off while she tries to tell him all the dirty things she did at camp.
Humbert is excited at the prospect of finally being able to fondle Lolita in her sleep, because in his eyes if he fondles her in her sleep then he is preserving her purity. He walks around the lobby and gets a drink while he waits for Lolita to fall asleep. When he goes out onto the deck, a man in the shadows begins to chat with him.
The man uses double entendre to insinuate that Humbert has an inappropriate relationship with Lolita and asks many questions about them. Humbert asks the man to repeat himself many times, though he does not, and both men act like they have no idea what is going on. The man in the shadows invites Humbert and Lolita to have lunch with him the next day, but Humbert says they will be gone by then. When Humbert walks through the lobby to go back to his room he is momentarily blinded by a camera flash.
When Humbert returns to the hotel room he discovers that Lolita is not quite sleeping, but pretty out of it. She keeps mumbling the name “Barbara” in her sleep. Humbert lies next to her all night listening to the sounds of Lolita and the hotel, but he does not make a move; he is too nervous.
In the morning Lolita wakes up and asks Humbert if he ever had sex when he was her age and he tells her that he did not. Lolita then seduces Humbert, and they have sex, as Humbert tells it. He is surprised at how experienced and in control Lolita seems, but knows that to her sex is just something kids do with one another, and she does not understand nor is she ready for, the kind of sex that adults have.
Humbert thinks about the environment they are in and decides that if it were up to him, he would change the atmosphere of the Enchanted Hunters to better suit them. He would decorate and paint the walls in murals depicting romantic activities. He creates an ideal world in his head for he and Lolita to have sex in.
Humbert once again informs his reader, “the jury”, that in Roman Law, and many ancient civilizations, girls were considered mature by the age of twelve, so seriously his relationship with Lolita should not be frowned upon at all.
Some cultures find it perfectly acceptable for girls to marry at her age, including some of the States, so he should not feel awful having sex with Lolita, nor should he be harshly judged for it. Besides, he is the not the first person Lolita has ever had sex with so he does not need to feel sorry for ruining her purity and innocence.
Lolita tells Humbert of all her sexual experiences at camp, with boys and with girls. Humbert gives Lolita all of her presents, and she tries on all her new outfits for him. When they are getting ready to leave the hotel, Lolita is reading a magazine in the lobby and Humbert notices a man staring at her and it makes him uncomfortable and jealous. He thinks the man reminds him of his uncle Gustave.
In the car, Humbert tries touching Lolita, but she seems remarkably uninterested in him and uncomfortable with his touching, teasing him about being a dirty old man and telling him that she should call the cops and say he raped her. She complains about some pain and tells him that she thinks he ripped something inside of her. Lolita later gets upset with Humbert and tells him that she wants to call her mother right away, and Humbert tells her that her mother is dead.
Humbert and Lolita stop in a town called Lepingville where Humbert takes Lolita on a shopping spree to comfort her because he does not know what else to do. They get a hotel for the night and Humbert gets her a separate room where he can hear her crying.
In the middle of the night, Lolita comes into Humbert’s room and crawls into bed with him because she is lonely and both she and Humbert know that each other is all they have now that Charlotte is gone.
Humbert and Lolita spend the next year travelling all over the country, and Humbert describes in detail the many hotels, motels, and motor courts they stay in, reveling in the pure Americana of it all. He notices that Lolita is a bit of a brat, but gives her almost everything that she wants. He also notices that she is essentially, unexceptional in every way, but he is attracted to her regardless.
When Lolita starts to complain to him and threaten to turn him in he tells her that if she does then she will be put into a reformatory school because she will have nowhere else to go. Lolita tries to make friends with the other tourists they meet and occasionally Humbert will allow her to hang out with girls her age, but never boys. Eventually the twosome ends up back in Beardsley, which is where Lolita was born.
Humbert takes some time to reflect on his and Lolita’s trip throughout the United States. He states that he tried to keep her as entertained as he possibly could throughout the trip, by stopping at every tourist landmark he could find, but honestly he just wanted to keep her distracted so she would not tell anyone about what was going on between them.
Humbert realizes that since they have begun having a regular sexual relationship she has become more sexually aware of herself and appears as a more sexual being to other males. Lolita always wants to pick up hitchhikers, but Humbert does not because he fears someone will understand what is going on with he and Lolita and also because many of them are males.
Lolita likes to play tennis and swim, and Humbert likes to watch her do both of these things, though one time when she is playing tennis he thinks he sees her talking to a man, and he feels uneasy about it. His mission on the trip was not to keep Lolita happy and entertained just enough so to keep her having sex with him.
As Humbert gets more comfortable with his physical relationship with Lolita, she becomes not just annoyed and uninterested but actually disgusted with him. Humbert has fantasies about being on the beach with Annabel, and because of this he enjoys having sex with Lolita in outdoor places, though this makes it easier to get caught.
He almost gets caught while post-sex cuddling with Lolita outdoors once by a woman picking flowers, he also is almost found groping Lolita in a movie theater. Humbert begins to feel guilty that Lolita has not been going to school, and his money is beginning to run low so he decides to settle in Beardsley and send Lolita to a girls’ school there and to teach at Beardsley College with his old friend Gaston Godin.
Humbert realizes they have gone everywhere but seen nothing at all. Every night Lolita cries herself to sleep, and Humbert pretends he is sleeping so he does not have to deal with her.
Gaston Godin helps Humbert and Lolita to find a house to move into, which Humbert finds most unimpressive. He does, however, have a lovely view of the playground at the Beardsley School for girls and hopes that he will be able to see Lolita play with the other nymphets there.
Much to Humber’s dismay some builders arrive and smash his dreams. Humbert is upset when he finds out that the headmistress of Lolita’s school does not encourage learning intellectual things so much as learning social skills, though some people Humbert meets tell him that the girls do some schoolwork so it is not all a waste. Mrs. Pratt has her girls focus on the “Four D’s”: dance, debating, dramatics, and dating.
Humber discusses with his reader the neighbors that he and Lolita have at their new home on Thayer Street. He is civil with his neighbors but is careful not to make any friends in case they start to snoop around his life and figure out the arrangement he has with Lolita.
Humbert and Lolita have a cook name Mrs. Holigan who, thankfully, does not appear to be all there mentally because Humbert worries that she will catch on to what it happening around her. He does not allow Lolita to be alone with Mrs. Holigan at the risk that Lolita will feel the need to confide in someone.
Humbert is dear friends with Gaston Godin, mostly because Gaston has no interest whatsoever in any relationship that Humbert may have with Lolita. Gaston actually does not even appear to notice Lolita at all, as Humbert states, because Gaston seems to be more interested in young boys than young girls.
Gaston has portraits of all the young boys of the neighborhood hanging in his house, along with some of famous painters, as well. Gaston is a French professor at Beardsley and is well-liked in the community and regarded as a brilliant man with a genius scholarly mind.
Humbert, however, finds Gaston to be rather dull and not terribly bright, because he does not think that anyone is smarter than he. Not only does Humbert rather enjoy spending time with Gaston but he figures he will make a convincing alibi should he ever be caught, as well.
Humbert and Lolita’s relationship is becoming more vile by the day, and Lolita acts more uninterested in him than ever before. Humbert declares that he is a weak man which is why he falls for Lolita’s games, but he thinks that Lolita is become more demanding and sneaky by the minute.
Humbert already gives Lolita an allowance and buys her everything that she wants but she starts to demand even more money from him, and will not have sex with him any longer unless he pays her first. Humbert begins to sneak into her bedroom and steal the money back because he fears that she is saving up money to make an escape.
When Lolita realizes he has been taking her money back she is upset with him and finds a new place to hide it.
Lolita becomes increasingly interested in boys, as boys do with her and Humbert worries about her interacting with boys because he does not want her to run off with one of them and to be unfaithful to him. He reads the advice column in the paper for tips on how to handle a teenager. He decides he will let Lolita interact with boys in groups, but never alone, which infuriates her.
Humbert understands that he cannot watch her all the time nor can he stop her from doing everything, but when he gets the chance he does not take his eyes off of her. He also looks through her room every chance he gets to find evidence about what she is doing when he is not around.
Humbert cannot believe that other members of the community do not suspect him of being a creepy pervert or a pedophile and congratulates himself for pulling the wool over their eyes.
Humbert hopes to befriend Lolita’s friends in an effort to gather information about her, and also because he hopes that some of her friends will turn out to be nymphets, as well. Lolita’s best friend is Mona Dahl and, unfortunately for Humbert, she is not a nymphet.
Humbert decides that Mona is much too experienced for him, though she does seem to have a bit of a crush on him. Humbert is worried by Mona’s apparent crush because he feels like Lolita may be setting him up. Humbert tries to get information about Lolita out of Mona, but Mona will tell him nothing, only flirt with him.
Humbert recalls that when Lolita would be doing her homework he did not seem able to leave her alone. He would crawl on the floor over to her desk and intrinsically bed her to touch him, have sex with him, or give him some sort of sexual satisfaction.
Lolita was getting so fed up with Humbert by this point that she would always turn him down. Lolita could not stand Humbert and all of his neediness so she would beg him to go away and leave her alone.
Humbert is called into school by Headmistress Pratt to discuss Lolita’s grades. Lolita’s grades are poor and Mrs. Pratt is concerned that she is not where she should be sexually. She feels that Lolita is not as sexually aware of herself as the other girls are and thinks that Humbert should allow Lolita to date boys and to be in the school play, called “The Enchanted Hunters.”
Mrs. Pratt gives a psychoanalysis of Lolita that would make Freud proud and tells Humbert what all of the teachers think of Lolita. Humbert briefly considers marrying Mrs. Pratt just so he can kill her.
After the meeting, Humbert searches for Lolita and finds her in the study room with another girl, reading. Humber sits next to Lolita where the other girl cannot see them and pays her sixty-five cents to masturbate him.
Lolita gets seriously sick, and Humbert is worried about her. Thankful when she recovers, Humbert agrees to allow Lolita to have a party at their house and to invite boys. Lolita is happy that Humbert allows her to have the party, but when it actually happens the party is not hugely successful and Lolita is not impressed with any of the boys that come, to Humbert’s relief.
Humbert is so happy that she is not interested in any of the boys that he buys her a new tennis racket. When Lolita’s birthday comes around he buys her a new bicycle, which he seriously enjoys watching her ride, and also a book of French paintings. Lolita does not show any interest in the book and Humbert is frustrated by her lack of interest in culture.
Lolita prepares for the play “The Enchanted Hunters” which Humbert allows to her be in. She is playing the part of the farmer’s daughter, and Humbert shows no interest in reading the play at all. He does realize that the play has the same name as the hotel where he and Lolita first had sex, but he does not remind her of this fact because he is sure that she will pick on him for remembering such a thing.
He assumes that the play was written specifically for a school production but later finds out that it was, in fact, written by a famous playwright. To Humbert’s surprise, Lolita does remember the hotel they stayed at because one day she asked him if “The Enchanted Hunters” was the name of the hotel where he first raped her.
Lolita’s piano teacher, Miss Emperor, calls and informs Humbert that Lolita has missed her last couple weeks of lessons. Humbert confronts Lolita with this news and she tells him that she has been rehearsing for the play in the nearby park, which Mona confirms.
Humber does not believe either of the girls and is frustrated that Mona is lying for Lolita. He notices that Lolita has changed a lot and no longer looks like a nymphet but rather tawdry. Humbert and Lolita get into a big fight and she accuses him of being a rapist and of murdering her mother, and when Humber tries to restrain her she runs out of the house.
Humbert later finds Lolita in a phone booth, and she tells him that she hates her school and the play and wants to get away, but he must take her only where she wants to go. Humbert is happy and agrees and when they get home Lolita wants to have sex with him which Humbert says made him cry from joy.
Humbert goes to Lolita’s school to tell them that he is pulling her out because they must go to Hollywood where he has been hired as a consultant on a movie about existentialism. Lolita is extremely excited about their trip and has planned out the exact places they will visit and will stay on their journey.
As they are leaving, the acting coach named Edusa Gold stops them and tells Lolita that is a shame she will not be participating in the play because she was doing such a marvellous job and the playwright in particular seemed enthused with her. Humbert asks Lolita who wrote the play she tells him that it was some old woman named “Clare something.”
Humbert finds it odd that she lost interest in the play so quickly when she had been so excited about it, but he pushes that thought away and they head out on their trip.
Humbert and Lolita stay in a series of hotels as they did before, but Lolita is acting mighty strange. She seems overly interested sometimes and thoroughly uninterested other times. Sometimes she wants to stay where they are for longer than planned for no apparent reason and sometimes she will not even get out of bed or wants to lie around reading all day.
Humbert notices that Lolita sneaks off for small bits of time, making up an excuse like going to the bathroom. One day Humbert leaves for a bit, and when he returns Lolita is fully dressed and has a certain glow about her, although before he left she would not even get out of bed. Humbert is becoming abundantly suspicious about Lolita’s actions and fears that she has been communicating with someone.
Humbert tells the reader that he has a gun that once belonged to Lolita’s father, Harold Haze. When he was living with Charlotte, John Farlow taught Humbert how to shoot the gun. Now, Humbert stands guard over Lolita at night, with the gun, because he has become so suspicious of her actions and mood swings. Humbert tells the audience that according to Freud, a gun is a phallic symbol representative of the father, which Humbert feels suits the situation perfectly.
Humbert feels as though they are being followed on their trip by someone he assumes is a detective, though he does not know why and he becomes increasingly paranoid. Humbert sees Lolita speaking to a man one day when they stop to rest, and she seems remarkably familiar with him though when Humbert asks her about it, she says she was just giving him directions.
Later, Lolita wants to go see a play by writers named Vivian Darkbloom and Clare Quilty, and she tells Humbert that Vivian is actually a man, and Clare is the woman who wrote the play that she was going to perform in at school.
Humbert remembers that Lolita used to have a crush on a male celebrity named Clare Quilty but Lolita laughs off his remarks.
At the post office, Humbert gets a letter to Lolita from Mona and reads it before Lolita can. He notices when he is done with the letter that Lolita is gone and when he finds her, she says she ran into a friend from school, but Humbert does not believe her. He notices that the man is still following him though he keeps changing cars.
Humbert refers to the man as “Detective Trapp” because he closely resembles Humbert’s uncle Gustave Trapp. One day Humbert tries to confront Trapp, but he drives off quickly. Humbert returns to his car where Lolita is in the driver’s seat, and he gets increasingly suspicious of her actions. He decides he will always carry his gun on him from that point on.
Humbert loves watching Lolita in everything that she does. He fondly remembers her acting classes, though he does believe that the lessons only helped her to become deceitful toward him. He especially loves watching her play tennis.
One day when she is playing he gets a mysterious phone call from the Beardsley School, but he realizes they would have no way to know where he is and when he gets to the phone there is no one on the line. He looks over to where Lolita is playing and sees a strange man playing doubles tennis with her.
When he gets to the courts the man is gone and Lolita will not tell him anything about the other man, nor will the other couple. Lolita changes the subject by telling Humbert she wants to go swimming.
Humbert takes Lolita to the pool and watches her swim. He notices that another man with dark hair seems to be watching her, as well. Lolita is obviously aware that the other man is watching her, and she appears to be flirting with him from across the way.
Humbert notices that the man is Trapp, and he gets up to confront the man who disappears before Humbert can get to him. Humbert begins to drink quote heavily and wonders if he has been imagining the presence of Trapp the entire time.
Later that same day Lolita comes down with a terrible fever and much to Humbert dismay he must bring her to the hospital because it cannot be avoided, though he feels that the fever is in some way part of a secret plan being hatched by her and her stalker.
Humbert brings Lolita a lot of presents and flowers in the hospital and notices an envelope next to her bed but the nurse insists it belongs to her, not Lolita. Humbert is upset by the envelope and leaves, telling Lolita he will be back to pick her up the next day.
When Humbert arrives for her, he finds that she is gone, and her “Uncle Gustave” has picked her up as per the nurses. Humbert vows to kill the person who took Lolita from him.
Humbert is on a mission to find Detective Trapp and Lolita. He decides to go back to all of the hotels they stayed at to get an idea of who the man is and to find out how long he had been following them for.
Humbert realizes after looking through many hotel registries that the man had been following them for quite some time. Humbert notices that the man always used a different, clever name to show Humbert that he is just as intelligent, cultured, and well-read as him and also knows French.
Humbert decides that Lolita and Trapp had been in touch ever since the very beginning of the trip and Humbert is infuriated.
Humbert returns to Beardsley, sure that Lolita must have known the man from school and that he will find what he is looking for at the school. He camps out in front of an art teachers office with his gun, sure that he is in the right place but soon realizes that he is going crazy, and he is getting nowhere with his search. Humbert finally hires a detective to help him, but the detective cannot help any more than Humbert can help himself.
Humbert obsesses over the loss of Lolita and informs the reader that, for the rest of the manuscript, he will only be writing about how much he misses Lolita in his life. He gets all of Lolita’s clothing together and ships it off to an orphanage near Canada to be rid of it.
He goes back to the mental institution, and, while there, he writes a missing persons ad for Lolita, entirely in verse. He reads his poem several times though decides not to bother publishing it. Humbert calls his poem a “maniac’s masterpiece”. Humbert cannot stop thinking about Lolita and sees her everywhere he looks. Soon, Humbert meets a woman named Rita.
Humbert and Rita begin a relationship and spend a lot of time drinking heavily together. Rita is in her twenties, has a decidedly shady past, and is a raging alcoholic. Humbert does not think she is unusually bright, and she is obviously not a nymphet, but she is exceedingly kind, and Humbert finds comfort in her presence.
Humbert and Rita travel across the country together in search of Lolita and her captor, returning to the town where The Enchanted Hunters hotel is. Humbert tries to find the photograph that was taken of him in the hotel lobby the summer he was there with Lolita, though he cannot bring himself to go back to that hotel because it is too sentimental for him. Rita becomes increasingly paranoid that Humbert will leave her.
Humbert and Rita break up and live apart though Humbert visits her fairly regularly still because he finds comfort being around her. He receives two letters that have been forwarded to him; one from John Farlow informing him that a new lawyer will be on the case of Charlotte’s estate, and someone is interested in buying the house so he needs to get in touch with Lolita; also Jean has died of cancer and he had remarried.
The second letter is from Lolita. In the letter from Lolita, she refers to Humbert as “Dad” and tells him that she is married to a man named Richard Schiller and she is pregnant with his child. She asks Humber for money but will not give him her address just in case he is still angry with her.
Humbert decides that he must go find Lolita and kill her husband. Humbert assumes that Dick Schiller is the man that stole Lolita from him at the hospital, and he is determined to kill him and take Lolita back.
Though she did not give her address, Humbert figures out what town she lives in and goes to find her. Once he arrives in the town he bathes and dresses himself nicely so as to impress Lolita when he sees her.
He is terribly nervous about the confrontation that is about to happen but knows that he must duel to the death with her husband. Once outside of Lolita’s home Humbert checks to be sure he has his gun.
When Humbert sees Lolita he realizes that she is no longer a nymphet, she is extremely pregnant and wears glasses now, but he is still in love with her. Humbert sees Lolita’s husband and realizes that he is not the man who took her from the hospital.
Lolita tells him that Dick knows nothing about the relationship between the two of them and she would like to keep it that way. She tells Humbert that the man who took her was Clare Quilty, the playwright, who was actually a man though she pretended he was a woman when mentioning him to Humbert in the past. She tells Humbert that Quilty was the principal love of her life.
Lolita had been warned about Quilty before but did not heed the warning and ran off with him anyway. She realized that Quilty and his friends were into child pornography, and she wanted nothing to do with it so she ran off and became a waitress, where she met Dick.
Humbert begs her to leave with him, and she says no but offers sex in exchange for the money she wants. He tells her that he loves her and wants her, not sex, but she tells him that she would never be with him again. Humbert gives Lolita four thousand dollars and leaves her.
Humbert decides that the way to find Quilty will be to track down his uncle, Dr. Ivor Quilty and sets out to do so. On his way to find him, it starts to rain and gets muddy. Humbert gets his car stuck in a ditch and ends up in a fit of rage and harsh emotion. He stays at a neighboring farmhouse for the night, determined to set back out on his journey in the morning. He has many memories of his time with Lolita.
Humbert begins to reflect on his case and what he has done to Lolita and her childhood. He remembers a priest he once knew whom he would talk to for hours about sin, the presence of God, and spiritualism.
Humbert says that he will forever remember the things that he did to Lolita and how he stole her innocence and deprived her of a childhood. He says that he will ever achieve any peace in his life because he is a maniac who stole the childhood of Dolores Haze.
Humbert realizes that when he and Lolita were involved in their torrid relationship he never saw her as a person at all, only as an object of sexual desire. He never paid any attention to her emotions or interests because all he cared about was what he wanted from her.
He remembers a time when Lolita began to cry after she saw a friend and her father exchange normal parent/child affection. He realizes that Lolita must have missed having a real parent in her life because that is not what he was to her.
Lolita hated Charlotte and thought she was awful, but she was a parent to Lolita and thus preferable over Humbert because he was nothing more than a monster. Humbert pleads to Lolita to forgive him because though he was a monster, he was a monster who loved her.
Humbert goes back to Ramsdale and visits the Haze house, which now has a new family living in it. He goes to see the new lawyer, Windmuller, then heads right to see Dr. Quilty. He pretends that he has a dental problem but honestly he just wants some information on Clare Quilty, which Dr. Quilty gives to him.
As soon as Humbert finds out where Clare Quilty lives he leaves Dr. Quilty’s office. All Humbert can think about is shooting his gun.
As Humbert drives past the house that Quilty lives in he begins to wonder what kind of dirty, illegal, and scandalous things are happening inside the house. He decides that he will not burst into the house that night but rather wait until the next day. He finds a bobby pin that had belonged to Lolita in his glove box, and he remembers the times he had with her.
On the way home, he passes a drive-in movie theater and he sees a man raising a gun on the screen.
Humbert bursts into Quilty’s house the next day and has to search through the massive home before he finds him, finally, coming out of the bathroom. Quilty pretends he does not know who Lolita is and tries to wrestle the gun out of Humbert’s hands.
Humbert tells Quilty that he is Lolita’s father, and he is going to kill him, irritated that Quilty is so smug. Quilty finally admits to knowing Lolita and tells Humbert he rescued Lolita from a pervert. Humbert recites Quilty a poem he has written him, detailing Quilty’s crimes, and Quilty critiques the poem as they wrestle with one another.
Quilty finally begins to bribe Humbert and beg for his life, but Humbert does not fold. Humbert finally shoots at Quilty and finds that he has to shoot him multiple times as he just will not die. Humbert finds some people downstairs in Quilty’s house and tells them that he has just killed their friend, but no one seems to care.
Humbert surprisingly feels no peace with the murder of Quilty and as an act of rebellion drives down the wrong side of the road on his way home. Humbert is arrested after running a red light. Humbert realizes while writing that losing Lolita means nothing when he has robbed her from her childhood, which is the real tragedy.
Humbert tells the reader that he feels a thirty-five year sentence for rape would be just the ticket, as he does not believe in the death penalty. He implores Lolita not to mourn Quilty’s death, as Humbert has done the world a service by killing him. Humbert believes that he should be allowed to live to immortalize Lolita forever through his writing.