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Literature Study GuidesLolitaPart 1 Chapters 6 7 Summary

Lolita | Study Guide

Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita | Part 1, Chapters 6–7 | Summary



Chapter 6

Briefly Humbert weighs whether his gaze does damage to those it lands on, but he concludes, "Oh, it was, and remains, a source of great and terrible wonder." He then describes two encounters with young prostitutes. Humbert initiates an encounter with Monique because she looks young. However, the "pang of genuine pleasure" he experiences with Monique ends the next day when she seems to have aged overnight. His effort to find an even younger prostitute puts him in touch with a normal 15-year-old, from whom he flees. It's worth noting that the revulsion Humbert feels may not be a one-way street. Older women and girls—even 15-year-olds—seem to pose a problem for him. Indeed they may not fall for his enticements and therefore he does not have power over them.

Chapter 7

Humbert explains that he decided to marry in pursuit of conventions that might lend him self-control. He notes how easy it was to attract women, given his "striking if somewhat brutal good looks." He chooses a wife, Valeria, though he eventually realizes that he has made "a piteous compromise."


As illustrated by Monique Humbert reflects on his distaste for what nymphets grow into. After Monique he pursues increasingly risky ways of meeting prepubescent girls; but the episode with the 15-year-old prostitute becomes absurd as he tries to get free.

Humbert draws increasing attention to his own problematic behavior even while he describes efforts to control it. Humbert pursues the conventions of married life "for [his] own safety," hoping that the routines of domesticity might keep his dangerous urges under control.

Humbert also seems to demand sympathy for his poor judgment. He refers repeatedly to his appeal to women, describing himself as broodingly handsome. His ego makes him confident that he could have any adult woman he chooses, yet instead of one of "the many crazed beauties that lashed my grim rock"—conjuring Homer's Odysseus resisting the Sirens (creatures who sing to attract unsuspecting sailors to crash on a rocky shore)—he chooses Valeria, illustrating "how dreadfully stupid poor Humbert always was."

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