Chapter 12-13 Summary

Humbert has plenty of experience deriving secret pleasure from his observations of nymphets, but in his first three weeks in Ramsdale, he keeps getting interrupted in his attempts to do this. He soon discovers that even the long-awaited trip to the beach will provide no opportunity for him to secretly masturbate in Lolita's vicinity. It turns out that Mrs. Haze has invited a friend for her daughter, and the two girls will play in the distance while Humbert has to sit and chat with the mother.

Humbert's frustration grows intense, but he eventually has an opportunity for release. One Sunday morning, Lolita and Mrs. Haze have a fight, and Lolita refuses to attend church. Mrs. Haze marches off alone, and Humbert, after eavesdropping on all this from the bathroom, puts on a bathrobe over his pajamas and goes downstairs to the living room.

Humbert pauses here to say that he will describe the next event in as much detail as possible so that the reader—if open-minded—will understand “how careful, how chaste, the whole wine-sweet event is.”

First, Humbert goes downstairs to the sunny living room to sit among Mrs. Haze’s ridiculous knickknacks and watch Lolita play. Lolita is wearing lipstick and a pretty pink church dress. She is barefoot, and she is holding an “Eden-red apple.” She tosses this in the air, and Humbert snatches it from her. “Give it back,” she says, and she grabs it and bites into it. She shows him a picture in a magazine, and eventually she lies down next to him on the couch, placing her legs across his lap. By this time, Humbert is “in a state of excitement bordering on insanity.” He cannot easily control the expression on his face, so he pretends that he has a toothache. Then, to prevent Lolita from noticing the physical symptoms of his arousal, he focuses her attention on the lyrics of a stupid popular song, “O my Carmen.” She eats her apple and sings with him, apparently unaware that he is slowly, carefully rubbing himself against her. He brings himself to orgasm, prolonging the moment as long as he can.

Just after Humbert experiences “the last throb of the longest ecstasy man or monster [has] ever known,” the phone rings. Lolita gets up and speaks to her mother, apparently unaware of what has happened. Humbert pats his forehead with a handkerchief, pleased with himself, and goes upstairs to take a bath.