HomeLiterature Study GuidesLolitaPart 1 Chapters 2627 Summary

Lolita | Study Guide

Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita | Part 1, Chapters 26–27 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 26

Humbert complains about living in jail; he's confused about when events in his story actually happened; he has a headache. He yearns for Lolita.

Chapter 27

Humbert picks up Lolita at Camp Q and describes the camp for us. He and Lolita leave; he tells Lolita that her mother is sick and that they are traveling to Lepingville. Lolita recounts some of what she did at camp, suggesting, along the way, that she had a sexual experience there. At The Enchanted Hunters hotel in Briceland, where they stop their first night, there is no place to park until a red ("rubious") convertible backs out and they take that car's space. They will continue to see this red convertible, usually behind them, throughout their journey. Up in their hotel room Humbert surprises Lolita with the clothes he bought for her. They kiss, but Lolita says Humbert is a bad kisser. They go to dinner; then Humbert has Lolita take the pills he bought. He leaves Lolita and goes downstairs.

Analysis

Nabokov suddenly jerks us back into the present, reminding us that Humbert Humbert is in jail, which Humbert calls "tombal," or tomb-like. The repetition of Lolita's name is like a heartbeat, recalling, perhaps, Edgar Allan Poe's repetition of the name "Annabel Lee" in the poem by the same name. The "throb" that is mentioned throughout the novel here becomes rhythmic, sounding in the repetition of Lolita's name.

Humbert tells the story of his taking Lolita from Camp Q "in all its trivial and fateful detail"—once again seeing his life as a story and a product of fate. He notices all the photographs of girls, "some gaudy moth or butterfly, still alive, safely pinned to the wall." Readers can follow references to butterflies throughout the novel and determine how much Lolita is like one, delicate and trapped partly because of her beauty.

As Humbert and Lolita drive away from Camp Q they have a conversation, in which Lolita talks in a youngster's jaunty, sly slang, calling Humbert "Dad" as well as "dirty old man," without seeming too serious about either saying. She asks how angry her mother would be if she found out they were "lovers." Lolita's teenage tough-girl innocence is evident throughout. Humbert speaks to her with a mix of fatherliness, shock, and painful sincerity, trying to tell her of the seriousness of her mother's "operation."

The name of The Enchanted Hunters hotel is meaningful and becomes a major reference throughout the novel, underlining both the fairy tale aspect of the novel and our sense that Humbert is a hunter, hunting Lolita, his victim and his prey. Humbert describes the drawings on the hotel's dining room walls as being "maudlin murals" showing hunters stalking fairy tale creatures. The Enchanted Hunters hotel is the place where Humbert first rapes Lolita.

Finally a foreshadowing: Lolita notices someone who looks "exactly, but exactly, like Quilty"—not their "fat Ramsdale dentist"—but his cousin or brother, "the writer fellow" in the Dromes cigarette ad she kept in her bedroom.

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