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Literature Study GuidesLolitaPart 2 Chapters 29 30 Summary

Lolita | Study Guide

Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita | Part 2, Chapters 29–30 | Summary



Chapter 29

Lolita answers the door. She's older, wearing pink-rimmed glasses, and very pregnant. After much prodding she tells Humbert the name of the person she ran away with—Clare Quilty, who wrote The Enchanted Hunter, the play she rehearsed at Beardsley School. Quilty had been a friend of her mother's, and she had met him again during the rehearsals for his play. She tells Humbert that Quilty took her to Duk Duk ranch, where he wanted to make pornographic movies of her, but when she refused he threw her out. She worked in restaurants for two years until she met her husband, Dick Schiller. She tells Humbert that Quilty is the only man she was ever in love with. Humbert asks her to leave with him, and when she refuses he gives her all of his money and writes her a check. She introduces him to her husband, who invites Humbert to spend the night. She calls Humbert "honey," and he asks her once again to come with him. She refuses and Humbert drives away, crying.

Humbert drives toward Ramsdale, planning to find Quilty and shoot him. His car gets stuck in the mud, but someone comes along and helps him. He drives to another town and sits up all night in his car crying.


Humbert finally calls Lolita by her real name—Dolly Schiller. He can't escape the fact that she is now grown up, and he can't escape her reality now as she refers to him with the diminutive and parent-like "honey."

As Lolita/Dolly explains to Humbert, Quilty had been following Lolita and Humbert all along. Humbert (and perhaps the reader) never paid enough attention to truly see the man in the red car. Quilty is Humbert's double, without the pretentious rationalizations. Two questions can be asked: Is Quilty real? And who is the less "moral" person, Quilty or Humbert?

When Humbert says he loves Dolly she assumes he wants her to go have sex with him in a hotel. Humbert is shocked by this assumption because he has always fantasized, imagined, that they had a real love. This shows how different their perceptions of their relationship, and of reality, have always been.

After the anticlimax of meeting the real Dolly Schiller and her husband, Humbert's language becomes very matter-of-fact, a description of nameless roads he took out of Coalmont. He takes off his fancy clothes—his romantic, imagined self—and stops in a town not far from The Enchanted Hunters hotel. He cries, "drunk on the impossible past," suggesting the pain he feels when he remembers his life with Lolita. The mystery and power of memory and the impossibility of retrieving experience from the past is one of the novel's recurring themes.

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