Literature Study GuidesLolitaPart 2 Chapters 21 22 Summary

Lolita | Study Guide

Vladimir Nabokov

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Course Hero, "Lolita Study Guide," August 25, 2016, accessed September 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Lolita/.

Lolita | Part 2, Chapters 21–22 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 21

Humbert watches a bather at the swimming pool watch Lolita. Humbert is becoming more and more anxious and paranoid: he may be going mad. When he sees Lolita in her "Aztec Red bathing briefs" (the same color as Quilty's convertible) he realizes that he has overreacted to seeing her playing with a dog. Watching a man (probably Quilty) watch Lolita in a sexual way, he sees that man as a "satyr," which is a lustful, drunken, mythological creature who is part man, part goat. Humbert then recognizes this creature as Gustave Trapp, his "good-natured and foolish Swiss cousin." Soon Humbert sees Lolita's eyes, which are "more calculating than frightened." Clearly he would rather have Lolita frightened than thinking on her own. He hears her tell someone that her father is having a fit. Lolita increasingly has the upper hand in her relationship with Humbert.

Chapter 22

Lolita and Humbert are in Elphinstone, and Humbert is becoming more and more disturbed. He attempts to "fondle" Lolita and realizes she is feverish and ill. Thinking she might have polio Humbert takes her to the hospital, "as any American parent would." Driving alone back to the hotel he realizes that it's the first time in two years he has been separated from Lolita. He becomes ill himself, and when he is well enough to get Lolita out of the hospital he is told that she has been released to her uncle. He causes a ruckus but stops when he realizes the staff will arrest him if he does not settle down. He remembers that he has his gun.

Analysis

Elphinstone is another of Nabokov's meaningful place names. The name suggests that this is a place where elves, like Lolita, become stone or where their humanity is cancelled, made into art.

Humbert has difficulty sleeping when Lolita is in the hospital. His increasing paranoia and jealousy shows in his reaction to the hospital staff. It's significant that "Mr. Gustave" is called Lolita's uncle, and that Humbert thinks, at the end of Chapter 22, that he is "free to destroy my brother," which reinforces the idea that the two men are doppelgangers or doubles. It's also notable that Lolita escapes from Humbert, gaining her personal freedom, on Independence Day.

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