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Literature Study GuidesLolitaPart 2 Chapters 11 12 Summary

Lolita | Study Guide

Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita | Part 2, Chapters 11–12 | Summary



Chapter 11

Miss Pratt, the headmistress of the Beardsley School, has a chat with Humbert, informing him about Lolita's progress as a student and suggesting that, among other problems, Lolita is sexually immature. Miss Pratt recognizes that there's something wrong with Dolly/Lolita but misdiagnoses the problem: she thinks Dolly has not been told about human reproduction; she thinks Humbert is too strict a father. She finds Dolly/Lolita impudent, rude, and unable to concentrate. She thinks Dolly, though she is now 14, is unusually uninterested in boys and sex. In writing about this meeting Humbert is as usual pleased with his self-presentation to Miss Pratt as a "shabby émigré," and an "old-fashioned European." He's also afraid, though, that he has been found out. He reluctantly agrees to let Dolly be in play, which she has mistakenly called The Hunted Enchanters, "provided male parts are taken by female parts." Miss Pratt attributes this strange wording—possibly a Freudian slip on Humbert's part—to his being a foreigner. When Miss Pratt suggests that Humbert might have a psychoanalyst talk to Dolly, Humbert thinks "Should I marry Pratt and strangle her?" resonating with the way he dealt with Lolita's mother. After this conversation Humbert wanders down to Lolita's classroom. He pays her 65 cents and gives her permission to be in the play if she will masturbate him. Typically self-involved and self-pitying, he says he deserves to have her masturbate him after the "torture" of the conversation with Miss Pratt. He also thought the "combination" of a beautiful girl to watch as Lolita masturbated him would never come again.

Chapter 12

Lolita becomes ill, and when she recovers Humbert throws a "Party with Boys," which doesn't turn out well. After the party he's glad that Lolita says she dislikes boys. To reward her he buys her a tennis racquet, a bicycle, and art books.


The way in which Humbert controls Lolita's sexual education parodies Miss Pratt's intent. Humbert chooses public masturbation over instructional concerned parenting. By bringing his relationship with Lolita into a public place, a classroom, in front of an audience, a Barbie-doll-like fellow student, Humbert becomes reckless in his moral deprivation, descending across another moral line.

The Party with Boys is not a success partly because Humbert is drunk and keeps coming downstairs but also because one classmate does not come and an extra boy does come. Readers see that, probably because of Humbert, Lolita/Dolly does not have many friends; she is either disliked by many of her peers or distrusted by their parents.

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